Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 30, 2013

KEIM'S KORNER: End of a very short summer on horizon


GOSHEN — As the calendar prepares to change over to the month of July it makes me aware of a couple things.

One, it means that summer, at least for a sports writer, is already winding down. Didn’t Elkhart Central just win the Class 4A state baseball title to conclude the 2012-13 high school sports season? Didn’t we just have the longest day of the year not too long ago?

But the Elkhart County 4-H Fair is just around the corner and shortly after that practice for the next high school fall sports season will get underway.

Girls golf is the first one with practice staring on Friday, Aug. 2 and matches on Monday, Aug. 5. Practice for football, boys soccer, boys cross country, boys tennis, girls soccer, girls cross country and volleyball begin on Aug. 5. The date for first contests other than football is Monday, Aug. 19. Football begins on Friday, Aug. 23 and as I was reminded the other day on the Fairfield 12th Man Facebook page it’s only 55 days away.

As much as all that sometimes makes me wish it wasn’t July the fact the month is here means it also time for one of my favorite sporting events — the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

This year’s game is on Tuesday, July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

The NFL’s Pro Bowl doesn’t grasp my attention like the baseball All-Star Game does. It could have something to do with the timing of the event. After the Super Bowl or even the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl seems somewhat anti climatic.

The NBA All-Star Game and the NHL All-Star Game while played during the regular season attract more of my intention, but nothing like the Midsummer Classic.

Among my baseball All-Star memories is an extra-inning thriller that I remember watching while laying on the living room floor and yes, I’ll date myself by telling you it was on a black-and-white television.

That game in July of 1967 was at Anaheim Stadium and went 15 innings before Tony Perez of the Cincinnati Reds belted a pitch from Catfish Hunter over the fence in left field for a game-winning homer that also earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player Award.

The game went into the record books as the longest game in All-Star history and also as the first one in which all the runs came from round trippers.

Richie Allen homered in the second off Dean Chance and Brooks Robinson tied it for the American League with his solo blast in the sixth.

Rosters for both leagues contained some of the game’s all-time greats. Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson were among the National league standouts. The American League had Rod Carew, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski.

Another All-Star memory comes from the 1970 game and the classic collision at home plate between Rose and catcher Ray Fosse.

The American League led 4-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. Dick Dietz started things off for the Nationals with a homer off Hunter. Three straight singles and a sacrifice by Clemente tied the score and sent the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Rose singled and advanced to second on a single by Billy Grabarkewitz (Los Angeles Dodger third baseman) that brought Jim Hickman of the Chicago Cubs to the plate. Hickman lined a single to center. Amos Otis charged the ball and fired a strike to the plate where Fosse was waiting. Rose bowled over Fosse to score the winning run.

Rose got some heat over the play since it was an All-Star game and the fact that Fosse, a promising young star, was never quite the same afterwards.

But it was the kind of hard-nosed play that Rose was known for.

The 1971 game is one remembered for a monstrous home run off the bat of Reggie Jackson then with the Oakland Athletics before he became known as “Mr. October” later in his career with the New York Yankees.

The majestic shot bounced off a light tower on the roof of old Tiger Stadium some 520 feet from home plate.

The game featured a total of six home runs, all of which were hit by players that went on to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Johnny Bench, Aaron and Clemente homered for the Nationals while Jackson, Frank Robinson and Killebrew turned the trick for the American League.

Robinson’s homer was significant as he became the first player in All-Star history to homer for both leagues.

Contact Goshen News sports reporter Greg Keim at 533-2151, ext. 326 or by email at greg.keim@goshennews.com.