Midsummer Classic no stranger to Bay

Midsummer Classic no stranger to Bay

SAN FRANCISCO -- The All-Star Game will be held at the Giants' current stadium, AT&T Park, for the first time next July. But San Francisco is no stranger to baseball's marquee exhibition of its greatest players.

The All-Star Game has already been played twice in San Francisco. The 1961 and 1984 games occurred at the Giants' old ballpark, Candlestick Park.

Both games drew capacity crowds, and were, like this year's All-Star Game, less about the hitters and more about the pitchers. This year's game ended in a 3-2 American League victory -- the ninth straight for the AL -- while the 1961 and 1984 games ended 5-4 and 3-1, respectively, in favor of the National League.

The late Roberto Clemente, who received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award during the game in Pittsburgh this year, was the hero of the 1961 game, driving in the 10th-inning, game-winning run, much like Michael Young did with his ninth-inning triple in this year's game. While Clemente was the hero of the game for the NL, his late-game heroics were nonetheless overshadowed by the active body (or non-active, he would argue) of Giants pitcher Stu Miller.

With the National League holding on to a slim 3-2 lead in the ninth inning, Miller stared in at Pittsburgh catcher Smokey Burgess, got the sign, checked the runners at first and second, came set ... and rocked ever so slightly on the mound before delivering a pitch. Legend has it that his rocking was triggered by a large gust of wind that came somewhere off the coast of Candlestick Point and San Francisco Bay.

"The flag was straight down. But around the seventh inning, the flag started to flutter," Miller said. "By the eighth inning, it was blowing straight out. It turned out to be the best day and the worst day. I had never seen the wind blow that hard.

"By the time I got in there, it had gotten worse. I came in and anchored myself. There was a man on first and second with one out. Before I threw a pitch, I went into a stretch position and then there was an extra gust of wind and I just wavered a bit."

Upon seeing the motion, AL players jumped around in their dugout complaining for a balk call. But play continued on as Miller delivered an off-speed pitch to Detroit's Rocky Colavito, who swung and missed. After the pitch and more yelling, umpires convened and called the rocking a balk, awarding the runners a base each.

"I don't think any of the fans knew what happened. ... They were probably wondering why did those runners move up," Miller said. "Anyhow, the next day in the papers the headline says, 'Miller Blown Off Mound' ... I didn't move a hell of a lot. The papers made it sound like I was pinned against the center-field fence."

With both runners in scoring position, a ground ball then bounced past St. Louis third baseman Ken Boyer, bringing in the tying run and forcing extra innings. Clemente's game-winning single scored Willie Mays.

A combined 18 players in the 1961 game went on to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

The 1984 All-Star Game featured less late-game drama than its San Francisco predecessor, and more pitcher-friendly action. The game was witnessed by 57,756, and occurred on July 10 of that year, exactly 50 years after Giants legend Carl Hubbell's masterful performance in the 1934 All-Star Game.

The 1934 game was also hosted by the Giants, but at New York's Polo Grounds, and featured Hubbell's six-strikeout outing. He struck out five of those batters consecutively: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.

In 1984, with Hubbell on hand to throw out the first pitch on the 50th anniversary of his feat, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden combined to fan six straight batters in back-to-back innings for the NL side. That All-Star Game was the first for then-19-year-old Gooden, making him the youngest player to play in an All-Star Game.

Like San Francisco, the Bay Area is very familiar with hosting All-Star Games, as other sports have hosted their similar weekends at other Bay Area venues.

Before they were the Golden State Warriors, the San Francisco Warriors hosted the NBA's 17th All-Star Game at San Francisco's Cow Palace in 1967. The Warriors' Rick Barry was the game's Most Valuable Player.

In 1987, Major League Baseball's 58th Midsummer Classic was held at the Oakland Coliseum, and hosted by the Athletics. The 1997 NHL All-Star Game was hosted by the San Jose Sharks, at San Jose Arena, and the 2000 NBA All-Star Game was hosted by the Warriors at Oakland Arena.

Coley Harvey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.