This story was first published in July 2009, before the most-recent All-Star Game in St. Louis.
We may never again see the likes of what happened in the first inning of the last All-Star Game played in St. Louis in 1966.
For the first and only time in their careers, future Hall of Fame outfielders Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Henry Aaron batted 1-2-3 in the National League All-Star lineup. It would be difficult to fathom any All-Star team putting up a better trio to start the game.
We can only hope to never again see the likes of what happened weather-wise on that July 12. For the 21st day out of 22, the temperature exceeded 90 degrees in St. Louis and, on that day, it soared past 100 for the fifth time in that period. Sixty-nine deaths in the St. Louis area were said to have resulted from the extreme heat.
The thermometer reached 103 degrees at spanking-new Busch Stadium on game day, and it's little wonder that the hitters didn't want to waste much time in the batter's box. Rosters that featured 12 future Hall of Famers, plus two more who were hurt (Bob Gibson and Joe Morgan), combined for all of three runs in 10 innings, with the National League winning 2-1 in the bottom of the 10th in a game that lasted all of 2 hours, 19 minutes.
It takes about 2 hours, 19 minutes just for the commercial breaks in today's All-Star Games.
The winning run was scored by Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver, who hit 1.000 in his three career All-Star bats. McCarver singled to start the 10th, moved to second on a sacrifice by Ron Hunt, who still lives in the St. Louis area, and scored on Maury Wills' single.
A crowd of 49,936 was announced that day, but few were sitting near the field by game's end. In fact, not many of them were sitting near the field after about the second inning.
"It was unbelievable how hot it was," said Cubs third baseman Ron Santo later recalled "All those box seats in the sun ... by the third inning, they were almost empty."
This wasn't quite the era where fans wore T-shirts, shorts and sandals to the game. Many men at the game sported white dress shirts, and some even had neckties. Many female fans wore dresses.
Those who weren't wearing straw hats or sombreros put together makeshift concoctions including soaked handkerchiefs and towels placed atop the head. Some fans merely put icebags on their heads.
Vice President Hubert Humphrey was the leading dignitary at the game, but he had the good sense to dine with club president Gussie Busch in air-conditioned comfort before the game and then return to Washington before the game was over.
Former New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel, an honorary coach for the game, was credited with the most memorable quote of the day when he said, "The new park sure holds the heat well. It took the press right out of my pants."
Grass is greener
If there was a bright side, a modest one, mind you, for the players, it was that the stadium hadn't yet been fitted for artificial turf, which would have made the temperature seem like 130 degrees.
Gibson, the Cardinals' Hall of Fame pitcher, who had an ache in his pitching elbow, may have had the best idea. Replaced on the squad for the game, he stayed at his hotel, the Parkway House, in the Central West End.
"It was about 185 degrees," Gibson said. "The only cool place was in the pool - and I was in the pool."
Others couldn't get away from the heat, though.
American League All-Star Brooks Robinson said afterward, "It gets hot in Little Rock (where he grew up), but not this hot. It felt like 200 degrees inside that helmet."
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who was an Atlanta Braves player then, caught the first eight innings before McCarver took over. Torre recalled, "God, it was hot. You'd take a swing and you were out of breath. That's when you thought salt pills were good for you."
Torre told the Post-Dispatch after the game how he tried to encourage Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, who started for the National League. "When Koufax started pitching, I began hollering, 'C'mon, Sanford.' Then I yelled, 'C'mon, Sandy.' And then, 'C'mon, Sand.' It was only the second inning, but it was too hot to holler, so I quit,'' Torre said.
McCarver, who caught the last two innings, said, "I lost eight pounds. Of course (before that), I sat in the bullpen. I was too dumb to go into the dugout."
Like Torre, he found that the salt pills (two) he took didn't do him much good. "We all took salt tablets. We found out that it was the worst thing in the world for you," McCarver said.
"Joe told me he took 12. I never heard of anybody taking that many."
Due to all those salt tablets, perhaps Torre then could be excused for his wanderings after the game. With Eastern and TWA airlines on strike, players had to hustle to get where they were going to start the second half of the season.
"And," Torre said, "those were the days you carried your own bags. You're carrying your baseball bag and your suitcase.
"I went outside and they said, 'The car taking you to the airport is just outside the gate.' So I went out, I didn't see it, so I started walking. I walked all the way around the stadium to find out the car was right there. If I had just gone about 20 yards to the right, I would have found the car."
By then, Torre - and his new sports coat - was drenched.
American League shortstop Jim Fregosi remembered that during the game, "your feet were burning up. They had these big trays of ice, lined up in the runways in the dugout, that you stood in between innings. Spikes and all, you stood right in them.
"The heat was unmerciful. I can remember seeing the paramedics keep taking people out of the park because they had passed out, it was so damned hot."
But, less than 2½ hours after it started, it was over. And after McCarver had crossed with the winning run, he was mobbed near the plate by winning pither Gaylord Perry, third-base coach Harry Walker, NL manager Walter Alston, Willie McCovey and Mays.
"I had a great picture of it," McCarver said. "It was one of the classic shots."
But that was a long time ago. "Lost it in the divorce," he said.