On this day, 62 years ago, Stan Musial ended an All-Star Game marathon with a walk-off homer
Hall of Famer Stan Musial played in more All-Star Games than almost everyone else in Major League history. "The Man" played in 20 contests, none more memorable than his appearance on July 12, 1955, which was held at County Stadium in Milwaukee.
Coincidentally, the one man to appear in more Midsummer Classics than Musial made his All-Star debut that year, at his home park, no less -- Hank Aaron (21 contests). The veteran Musial, however, stole the show. The 1955 All-Star Game was a star-studded affair, with 17 future Hall of Famers among the 50 players on the rosters, and they made it a memorable showdown.
At first, it was all American League. Robin Roberts was not his usual self from the get-go, as all of the AL's first four batters came around to score. First, a wild pitch plated the Tigers' Harvey Kuenn, and then came a three-run blast by the legendary Mickey Mantle.
Meanwhile, Billy Pierce and Early Wynn blanked a dangerous lineup that featured not only Musial, but also Duke Snider, Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks and defending NL home run king Ted Kluszewski. Undaunted, Pierce and Wynn shut them out through the first six innings, and a Mickey Vernon groundout to score Yogi Berra in the top of the sixth made the score 5-0.
The outlook was bleak when Whitey Ford took the hill for the AL in the seventh. Like his fellow future Hall of Famer Roberts, though, he faltered. The NL scored twice that inning on an RBI hit by the Braves' Johnny Logan and a throwing error by shortstop Chico Carrasquel.
Ford returned in the eighth, and again, the NL touched him up. Three straight two-out singles made it a 5-3 game and sent the Yankees' ace to the showers. Aaron greeted Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan with a two-run single, and an error by third baseman Al Rosen allowed the NL to tie it up, 5-5. The five-run lead had vanished.
Thanks to NL pitchers Joe Nuxhall and Gene Conley, the score remained that way until the 12th. Musial was the first person scheduled to hit against Sullivan, who was still on the mound after holding the fort for three innings.
After 12 innings, Musial was ready to go home. "Yogi," he said as he stepped into the batter's box. "Let's end this thing."
Berra replied, "I'm getting tired."
On the first pitch, "Stan the Man" obliged with a game-winner:
Sullivan knew it was gone right off the bat. Musial launched his pitch deep into the crowd beyond the right-field wall for a walk-off homer, the fourth of his record six long balls in All-Star play. The comeback was complete.
Those who knew Musial best were hardly surprised. "Even in a game that had no bearing on the pennant race, Musial hated to make an out," Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck said about the home run. "For at all times, he was a study in concentration."
In 2011, Musial's walk-off was voted the greatest moment in All-Star Game history. It's not hard to see why.