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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Minneapolis to Host Mid-Summer Classic This Evening

The annual “Midsummer Classic” takes place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this evening, when the American League's Minnesota Twins host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. It's the first time in 29 years that the Twins are hosting the game. The National League defeated the American League, 6-1, at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome, 6-1, in front of 54,960 fans on July 16, 1985.

The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 69 degrees at game time. There will be a light wind out of the Northwest at five to ten miles an hour, and the humidity will be a comfortable 53 percent. Sunset is at 8:56 p.m. The American League is hoping to make it back-to-back victories after posting a 3-0 shutout victory at Citi Field in New York last year to snap the National League's three-game winning streak.

Prior to 2010, the National League won just three All-Star games since 1988. The “Senior Circuit” won the 1994 contest in Pittsburgh, 8-7, in ten innings, and the next two years as well. However, the American League claimed 11 of the next 12 classics, with the only exception being the controversial 7-7 tie in Milwaukee 12 years ago. The National League is hoping to extend its winning streak to four games.

Asg69As for rainouts, perhaps the most memorable was the 1969 game in Washington. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, July 22, but a torrential rainstorm forced a postponement to the following day. I vividly recall the images of water flooding the dugouts at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital. The outfield grass featured standing water and deep puddles. However, the next afternoon, 45,259 fans watched as the Nationals easily defeated the Americans, 9-3.

Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants was named the game’s Most Valuable Player by hitting home runs in the third and fourth innings. That tied the record previously set by Arky Vaughan (1941), Ted Williams (1946), and Al Rosen (1954). Johnny Bench also homered for the winners. Frank Howard, the hometown hero with the Senators, and Bill Freehan hit round trippers for the A. L. Oddly, the National League stretched its winning streak to seven games with the easy victory.

Asg67The first All-Star game I clearly remember was a “classic” in Anaheim in 1967 in which the National League edged the American League, 2-1, in 15 innings on a Tony Perez home run. Twelve pitchers were featured in the contest and each had at least one strikeout. There were 30 strikeouts in the game, an All-Star record. Tom Seaver of the Mets picked up the save by pitching a scoreless 15th inning for the National League.

Will the American League win again? It looks like Mother Nature won't play a role in this year's contest, save for the setting Sun and the pitcher throwing from the sunlight into the shadows early in the game. The Midsummer Classic means it’s time to relax, sit back, and enjoy major league baseball, just as long as the weather cooperates. Soon, it will be time to “Play Ball!”