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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cincinnati to Host Major League Baseball's All Star Game for First Time Since 1988

The annual “Midsummer Classic” takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio, this evening, when the National League's Cincinnati Reds host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. It's the first time in 27 years that the Reds are hosting the game. The American League defeated the National League, 2-1, at Riverfront Stadium on July 12, 1988, in front of 55,837 fans. That began a string of dominance for the American League.

The weather forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms until the first pitch is thrown at 8:15 EDT. It will be warm at The Great American Ballpark. The game time temperature will be 74 degrees with a 43% chance of rain and a West/Northwest wind at 10 miles an hour. Conditions should improve as the game progresses.

The American League is hoping to make it three wins in a row after posting a 5-3 victory at Target Field in Minneapolis last year. 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 13 years ago. Overall, the National League has won just six times since 1987.

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 may play a role early in this year's contest. In case you're wondering, sunset is at 9:04 p.m. in Cincinnati, meaning the shadows from home plate to the pitcher's mound may become an issue. 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!”