The annual midseason classic, the All-Star Game, marks the traditional midway point in the major league baseball season.
The 2021 game was scheduled July 13 at Coors Field in Denver. One of my favorite all-star games ever happened July 7, 1964, at Shea Stadium in New York.
It was the summer of ’64, a magical time in my life. I was a 9-year-old avid Phillies fan in my hometown Philadelphia. I remember watching the All-Star Game on television at my row house after returning from Camp William Penn in the Pocono Mountains.
I always root for the National League because it includes my then-favorite Phillies team. I’m a Chicago Cubs fan now, of course, and they also play in the NL.
The 1964 game brought excitement and suspense. I probably kept a scorecard as usual because I used to keep score while watching my Phillies games. The National League beat the American League, 7-4 on a walk-off homer by Philadelphia’s Johnny Callison, capping a ninth-inning rally with his three-run shot heard round the world. The left-handed batter homered to deep right against hard-throwing Boston Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz.
Callison, old No. 6, played right field for my beloved Phillies. He was among my heroes.
But the Phillies went on to choke away the NL pennant that year. They had a six and a half game lead with 12 games left but proceeded to lose 10 straight. The St. Louis Cardinals won the pennant and went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.
My Phillies collapse ruined the summer for me. I caught pneumonia at summer camp and was recuperating. Surely my favorite team would deliver the title for the City of Brotherly Love. But no, they choked down the stretch.
At least the National League won that year’s All-Star Game. And one of my boyhood heroes delivered the deciding blow.