Povich Rewind: Musial, NL win 1956 All-Star Game

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Povich Rewind: Musial, NL win 1956 All-Star Game
Jul 3, 2018

Not only was the late Shirley Povich witness to the four previous Major League Baseball All-Star games played in Washington D.C. – 1937, 1956, 1962 and 1969 – he covered all of them for The Washington Post, the newspaper for which he worked for 75 years. Over the next month – until the 2018 game is played at Nationals Park on July 17 – the Povich Center will rewind Povich’s coverage of those games, courtesy of The Washington Post. Check back every Monday for updates.

By Shirley Povich

GRIFFITH STADIUM — The first error of the 1956 All-Star festivities is committed by Mr. Eisenhower. On a day when the Nation is baseball minded, Ike’s announcement that he will stand for reelection could wind up among the Sally League results.

There is a hands-across-the-aisle tableau in the royal box section a half hour before game time as one cameraman, bucking for the Nobel Peace Prize, persuaded Kentucky Governor Happy Chandler and Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick to pose for a picture. Chandler had the assurance he now holds one job that is safe from Frick’s ambitions.

For the 28,843 fans who lucked out in the scramble for tickets, it was the dream game. But for the 3,000 would be standees who were marooned outside of the park after the 500 standing room tickets were sold, it was merely a mirage.

Goldman’s musicians tootled to a new record of 40 consecutive seasons as baseball’s most famous batting-practice band before being benched in favor of the Army Air Force music. The adequacy of the Air Force may be in doubt, but it is comforting to note that the band has added a new wing.

The Washington Post Sports page from July 11, 1956. Shirley Povich’s coverage of the MLB All-Star Game at Griffith Stadium can be seen on the left side of the page. Click for an enlarged version.

The intensive drilling of the Air Force Band is casily noted on the march to center field for the flag-raising ceremonies. They are only slightly out of tep with those briskly prancing militarists, managers Casey Stengel and Walt Alston, and Major League Presidents Will Harridge and Warren Giles.

Master of ceremonies Arch McDonald asks for and gets from the big crowd a moment of reverent silence in tribute to the memory of the late Clark Griffith to whom the game is dedicated. It is an exclusive for the late Mr. Griffith, the only silent moment of the day.

They announce the lineups and in the American League division it is a triple tie among Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Mickey Vernon on the applause meter, and perhaps Godfrey will bring ‘em all back next week.

Casey Stengel’s record as an All-Star manager now stands at four defeats, one victory, and the fans begin to understand why when the AL batting order shows George Kell hitting eighth. The suspicion is that Casey has slipped a disc somewhere.

The All-Star Game is supposed to be all in fun, but the Cincinnati Reds are making a pretty personal affair out of it. Five of them are in the starting lineup of the NL.

Billy Pierce is the starting pitcher for the AL and fans lead-off man Johnny Temple on three pitches. Talk about curve balls, Pierce on the last strike curved Temple right out of his bat which went sailing past third-base coach Fred Hutchinson.

In fact, Pierce strikes out the first two National Leaguers to pop their noses into the batters’ box. Stan Musial, out No. 3, emerges as the batting star of the inning. He hit one almost out of the infield.

Pitcher Bob Friend of the Pirates fans Williams to end the AL first inning and Mantle to start the AL’s second, which is rather good pitching. He gets Mantle on three pitches, the third of which he takes with his bat on his shoulder and, according to lip readers, Mantle is asking himself who needs a Friend of that type.

Score, Reds 1; American League 0, at the end of the third. Roy McMillan walks, is sacrificed to second and scored on Temple’s single to center. The element of surprise pays off, what with McMillan and Temple ostensibly in there because of their fielding ability.

Friend is unperturbed by the day’s humidity until there are two on and two out in the AL third. Then, with Ted Williams coming up, the weather suddenly becomes stifling for some reason. Friend calls time, mops his brow and finally goes back to work. Williams grounds out and it is equivalent to a fresh breeze for Friend.

3-0, National League, in the fourth. Beyer singles and Alston wins a battle of managerial wits with Stengel by inserting Willie Mays as a pinch hitter for Gus Bell. Yogi Berra calls for a fast ball from Whitey Ford and it winds up as a memento for some fan half way up in the left field bleachers.

4-0, National League, in the fifth. Third baseman George Kell is very much alive on Johnny Temple’s bunt but the perfect bunt prevails over the perfect throw and it is a single. Ken Boyer’s third straight single scores Temple.

5-0, National League, in the sixth. Ted Kluszewski, who isn’t supposed to hit to left field, does, for two bases, and Roy McMillan, who isn’t supposed to be batting 1000 in All-Star Games, gets Klu home with a blooper over Vernon’s head.

Ted Williams, in a little tableau entitled “Seeing Nellie Home,” scores Nellie Fox with a homer into the right-center bull-pen. Willie Mays and Duke Snider missed the catch, which was made by bullpen pitcher Johnny Kucks of the Yankees, who played Williams perfectly behind the protection of the fence.

“Williams now has tied Musial for most All-Star homers with four,” the official scorer announces, so it must be so.

Mickey Mantle follows Williams’ clout with one of his own into the left field seats and the AL has three runs for the inning. Mantle took the short route and the only need for a tape measure on that one was to establish by how many hundred feet it fell short of some of his best homers.

5-3, National League, at the end of six. There is more trouble for the National when Lollar and Kaline follow Mantle’s clout with singles, and none out, but it evaporates when Kell grounds to shortstop McMillan, who works there, starts a double play to get Antonelli out of the inning.

7-3, National, at the end of seven. Musial, reacting like the Player of the Decade should, reclaims the All-Star home-run championship from Williams by getting his fifth, left handing it into the left-field seats of Tom Brewer of the Red Sox.

Brewer gets rid of Willie Mays by walking him, which he shouldn’t of done as the the saying goes, because Kluszewski uses only part of his muscle to drill a two-bagger against the right field wall and get Willie Home.

Ken Boyer, who is supposed to play only third base for the Cardinals, but is really empire-minded, goes out into left field for Ted Williams’ short hoist. He misses the catch and comes up with a mouthful of sod. But Williams is out because Musial races up to make the catch Boyer missed.

Walt Alston doesn’t like the way Musial landed and takes him out of the lineup after the play despite Stan’s insistence that he isn’t hurt. It is a nice gesture by Alston, anyway, because it gives the crowd a chance to cheer the exit of the valiant warrior.

The Washington uniform finally makes its appearance in the All-Star Game with one out and two in the ninth, Worse luck. Stengel asks Roy Sievers to pinch it and he pops to Boyer and the cheers flicked out.

Courtesy of The Washington Post. Originally printed on July 11, 1956.

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