The 1981 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 52nd playing of the midsummer classic between the National League (NL) All Stars verses the American League (AL) All Stars of Major League Baseball….as the game was played on August 9, 1981, at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio….which was at the time the home of the Cleveland Indians of the American League.
This was one of only two All-Star Games to be played outside of the month of July….with the other being the second 1959 game…..as this game was originally to be played on July 14….but was cancelled due to the players’ strike lasting from June 12 to July 31…..as this 1981 All Star Classic was brought back as a prelude to the second half of the season….which would begin the following day…..and with 72,086 people in attendance….it broke the stadium’s own record of 69,751 set in 1954….plus setting the still-standing record for the highest attendance in an All Star Game. Cleveland Stadium set a new All-Star Game record by hosting its fourth (and ultimately, final) Midsummer Classic. By the time Indians played host to the All-Star Game for the fifth time in 1997, they had moved to Jacobs Field..
The American League started with four shutout innings….with two apiece by starter Jack Morris and Len Barker for the AL….while. Fernando Valenzuela….only the second rookie pitcher to start an All-Star Game…..pitched a scoreless first with two strikeouts…. before allowing the AL to get on the board in the second when Ken Singleton homered off Tom Seaver. Gary Carter broke the scoring drought for the NL and tied the game with a solo shot off Ken Forsch in the fifth….then Dave Parker gave the senior circuit the lead with a solo homer of his own in the sixth off Mike Norris.
Burt Hooton came in for the NL in the AL-half of the 6th inning….and promptly loaded the bases on three successive singles by Singleton, Dwight Evans, and Carlton Fisk….then Fred Lynn lined another single….but only Singleton came home to tie it at two to two when Buddy Bell followed with a sacrifice fly to give the AL a 3-2 lead….then 1B Eddie Murray then bounced into what looked to be a double-play to Steve Garvey at first….but Garvey’s low throw combined with a great play by Ozzie Smith at second and a rolling slide by Lynn resulted in only a force at second. Fisk went to third and Ted Simmons singled him in to make it 4-2…..which was followed by an Al Oliver bloop fly ball to left that looked like it would drop….but Dusty Baker hustled in and made a sliding catch for the third out….thus saving a run and possibly more.
In the 7th, NL Gary Carter got one of the runs back with his second solo homer off Ron Davis….then, in the 8th….AL P Rollie Fingers walked Ozzie Smith….who stole second and attempted to take third when Bo Díaz’ throw went into center field….but Dave Winfield hustled the ball back to the infield and Smith was caught in a rundown and tagged out by Fingers….then Mike Easler walked and Mike Schmidt homered off Fingers to give the National League their winning runs.
The 1981 MLB All Star Game was historic because of the time of the year it was played….and how it was used to usher in the restart of the 1981 season…..but also because it featured 17 future Baseball Hall of Fame members including Gary Carter, Mike Schmidt, Andre Dawson, Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, George Brett, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, Tim Raines and Eddie Murray…..and although not in the Hall, but certainly deserving on the field….the one and only “Charlie Hustle” Pete Rose…..which makes this video an absolute “nugget of gold”….and well worth the watch.
For a finishing touch that is worth its weight in gold….this video finishes with a “short feature” presentation of Mr. Baseball Bob Uecker…..is a retired American Major League Baseball player, later a sportscaster, comedian and actor…who was facetiously dubbed “Mr. Baseball” by TV talk show host Johnny Carson….as Uecker had served as a play-by-play announcer for Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcasts since 1971….who was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame with its 2003 Ford C. Frick Award in recognition of his broadcasting career. One of my most favorite moments of Mr. Baseball Bob Uecker was after a game in which he caught knuckleball throwing Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro in a regular season game…..and was asked what was the best way to catch the knuckleball and responding “The best way to catch a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling and pick it up.”