Leagues split two All-Star Games played in 1959

Leagues split two All-Star Games played in 1959

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

It's hard to believe the All-Star Game could fall into the category of too much of a good thing.

But that's what happened for four years starting in 1959, when Major League Baseball decided to play two All-Star Games each summer. The result didn't exactly measure up to the level of Midsummer Classics, and the dual All-Star Game experiment ended in 1962.

Why two All-Star Games?

Profits from the second All-Star Game went directly into the players' pension fund under the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

In the first year of the All-Star "doubleheader," each league scored a win, with the National League triumphing, 5-4, on July 7 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and the American League winning, 5-3, on Aug. 3 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the first All-Star Game played on the West Coast.

Don Drysdale of the Dodgers started both games for the NL. In the first game, in his first of eight All-Star appearances, Drysdale struck out four in three perfect innings. But he took the loss in the second game, allowing three runs on four hits, including two home runs, in three innings.

In the first game, Milwaukee Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews gave the NL a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a home run off Early Wynn of the Chicago White Sox. The AL tied the game in the top of the fourth when Detroit center fielder Al Kaline homered off Lew Burdette of the Braves.

Wynn held the NL scoreless in the second and third. Hard-throwing Yankees reliever Ryne Duren followed, striking out four while allowing one hit in three scoreless innings before the NL broke the tie with two runs in the bottom of the seventh against Jim Bunning of the Tigers.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks opened the seventh with a double, but didn't advance as Bunning retired the next two hitters. But Braves catcher Del Crandall singled home Banks and took second on the throw home by center fielder Harvey Kuenn of Detroit. Crandall then scored on a single down the left-field line by Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski.

The AL took the lead for the first time with three runs in the top of the eighth with a two-out, none-on rally against Pirates reliever Roy Face.

A two-out single by White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox and a walk to Kuenn started the action. Cleveland first baseman Vic Power singled home Fox. After Boston's Ted Williams drew a walk as a pinch-hitter to load the bases, Orioles catcher Gus Triandos hit a two-run double to left to put the AL ahead, 4-3.

But the NL quickly jumped on Whitey Ford in the bottom of the eighth. Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer opened the inning with single and Pirates shortstop Dick Groat sacrificed the tying run to second. Milwaukee right fielder Hank Aaron singled home Boyer to tie the game and scored the game-winning run on Willie Mays' triple to right-center.

Fox and Yankees first baseman Bill Skowron each had two of the AL's eight hits. Aaron and Banks had two hits apiece for the NL.

Fox would also have two hits in the second game, while first baseman Frank Robinson would go 3-for-3 with a home run for the NL.

The NL took a short-lived 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first in the second game when Reds second baseman Johnny Temple doubled and scored on Aaron's sacrifice fly off starting pitcher Jerry Walker of the Orioles. Walker allowed one run over three innings and was credited with the win.

The AL tied the game in the top of the second when Red Sox third baseman Frank Malzone homered off Drysdale. An inning later, Fox singled off Drysdale with one out and scored on a two-run homer by Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.

Robinson's home run off Wynn in the fifth narrowed the AL's lead to 3-2.

The AL reclaimed a two-run lead in the top of the seventh when Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek walked and advanced to third on errors by Giants pitcher Sam Jones and Cubs shortstop Banks. Kubek scored on a single by Fox.

The game's final two runs came on an exchange of homers -- Dodgers' third baseman Junior Gilliam connecting off the Orioles' Billy O'Dell in the bottom of the seventh and Indians' right fielder Rocky Colavito connecting for the AL in the top of the eighth off the Pirates' Face. Cal McLish closed out the AL win with two scoreless innings.