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Tuesday, January 2, 2024

A Hall of Fame Half Inning


For one day in 1961..the greatest outfield baseball has ever seen!

By Harry Cummins

     Among the substantial number of baseball memories I have stashed away over a lifetime, seen either from wooden grandstands or perched in a press box, a brief 4-batter half inning played 63 years ago still lingers at the top of the list.

     It was the summer of '61 and baseball fans had not yet realized that Babe Ruth's season homerun record would fall later that season and Billy Crystal would one day make a movie about it.  The American League, with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in the lineup, met the National League in the 1961 All-Star Game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

     In the top of the 10th, the American League took a 4-3 lead and sent famed knuckleball artist Hoyt Wilhelm to the mound to face a gauntlet of the game's greatest hitters.  Hank Aaron led off the inning with a single, went to second on a passed ball and rode home on a Willie Mays' double to tie the game. Wilhelm then plunked Frank Robinson, putting runners on first and second.  Roberto Clemente then won the game for the National League with a line drive opposite field hit.

     As with most All-Star Games, this one wasn't about the score. There they were. Four immortal names who found themselves hitting in a brief but glorious Murderers' row.  Incredibly, Mantle, Mays and Clemente found themselves positioned in the same outfield during one point on this magical afternoon.

     A Midsummer dreamscape for youthful eyes... still undimmed.




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