As we approach the All Star break next week, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at a broadcast I recently picked up of the 1968 All Star Game.
The broadcast opens with a view of downtown Houston, and then focuses in on the Astrodome:
we see the classic NBC logo
and the intro to the 1968 All Star Game:
The announcers for the game were Pee Wee Reese, Curt Gowdy, and Sandy Koufax
who got a shout out from the Astrodome scoreboard:
The 1968 All Star Game was obviously the first to be played indoors, but it was also the first to be played at night.
As part of the pregame show, we get a tour of the Astrodome, including a look at some of the Suites:
We then move to the player introductions. The 1968 All Star Game was the first to have team captains, with Mickey Mantle being the AL team captain
and Willie Mays serving as the NL team captain:
NBC had a camera up in the gondola which they put to good use for shots like this of the lineups:
The National Anthem is performed, accompanied by fireworks on the scoreboard
Here is a color photo showing the lineups for the singing of the National Anthem with a full view of the fireworks on the scoreboard:
Then it is time for the lineups for the AL
and the NL
NBC shows off its high tech picture in picture capability with a cut in of Sandy Koufax talking about his old teammate Don Drysdale who is the NL starter
Leading off for the AL is Jim Fregosi, who is wearing the Angles batting helmet with the halo on the top:
Here is another view of the helmet that you don't see pictures of too often:
Fregosi doubles, but is stranded at third as Carew, Yaz, and Howard fail to bring him in. This was the biggest offensive threat the AL could put together all night.
Fortunately this broadcast has commercials, so we get to see the great new 1968 cars like this Dodge:
Going to the bottom of the 1st, we see AL starter Luis Tiant and his insane 1.24 ERA:
1968 was the Year of the Pitcher, and this All Star Game certainly drives that point home, with the almost impossible to believe ERAs that some of these pitchers had at the break as well as the fact that there was almost no offense at all in this game.
Willie Mays led off for the NL with a single, and would ultimately score the game's only run.
Here is the pitch from Tiant - check out Willie's pocket - there is something in there which we will see when he reaches first
After being safe at first, Willie takes off his batting helmet
flips it to the first base coach and reaches in his back pocket
and pulls out
Willie didn't wear the batting helmet once he got on base. He also didn't wear his hat under the helmet. He simply would swap the helmet for the hat when he reached base. I had never seen that done before.
They try to pick off Mays, but the throw goes past Killebrew, so Mays goes to 2nd, and then ends up at 3rd after a wild pitch. Curt Flood walks, and then Willie McCovery grounds into a DP which scores Mays.
Unfortunately the cameras pick up the double play, and not Mays scoring the run, so the viewers never actually got to see the only run of the game score. All they could see after the DP was Mays walking off the field at the bottom of this screen shot:
That pretty much takes care of most of the offensive production for the rest of the game after only 1 inning. The NL would get two more runners as far as 3rd, but neither would score.
Even though the scoring was already done for the night, there were still some more interesting things to see, including an ad for Right Guard with who appears to be McLean Stevenson in a pre-MASH appearance:
In the bottom of the 3rd, Harmon Killebrew injures himself by stretching out just a little to far and does a split
that leaves him flat out on the ground with a pulled groin muscle
They have to put him on a stretcher
to carry him off the field
NBC did take advantage of the Astrodome gondola, and provided some great shots of Hank Aaron
and Willie McCovey from a perspective that viewers were not used to seeing
There were also nice shots like this from behind home plate, where we see Juan Marichal with his famously high leg kick pitching to Frank Howard
As some of the commercials remind us, the late 1960's were awesome. Name another time when girls in mini skirts and go-go boots just hung out on top of traffic light poles
or women would dance while a guy was shaving
We also get to see the grounds crew in their "Earthmen" outfits drag the infield
We get to see some younger guys who would be All Star regulars during the 1970's make appearances, like Tom Seaver, who struck out 5 in his two innings.
In the top of the 8th, Mickey Mantle came into the game and received a standing ovation
Its an interesting juxtaposition to see one New York legend at the end of his career facing off against a soon to be New York legend at the start of career. In the shot below, Seaver strikes out Mantle in his final All Star at bat:
In the top of the 9th, we see another 1970's All Star game fixture make his first appearance - Johnny Bench.
We also catch a glimpse of the batting helmet worn by Carl Yastrzemski - he is the only player in the game wearing an ear flap, and the announcers point this out.
Jerry Koosman comes in to get the last out, and heads off the field where the NL players congratulate each other:
The Astrodome Scoreboard goes through the "Home Run Spectacular" sequence
and then we see the final score: NL 1 AL 0
This was the first 1-0 game in All Star history. The AL didn't really have much of a chance going against 4 Hall of Fame pitchers in a row: Drysdale - Marichal - Calrton - Seaver. Oh, and by the way, Bob Gibson was warming up in the 9th if Koosman couldn't get the job done.
Willie Mays was named the MVP given he scored the only run.
Taking a look back at these old All Star Games is really a lot of fun. Its great to see so many Hall of Famers and other big stars from the time in one game. Having the commercials as well really makes it feel like you are back in 1968 watching on a B&W TV.