It doesn’t seem like it, but the 1985 Major League All-Star Game was quite a while ago.
How long ago? Nolan Ryan threw out the first pitch to Pete Rose – and the two of them were still active players. Long in the tooth, but still active.
The Express and Charlie Hustle were just two of the legends on hand that evening in Minneapolis at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, a ghastly shopping mall disguised as a ballpark that was host to baseball’s 56th Midsummer Classic. Ryan ended up in Cooperstown, and Rose famously has not, but there were many players in uniform for that game who ended up with plaques at the Hall of Fame.
Just none of them were Tigers.
The ’85 All-Star Game was the last time the Tigers had as many as six players on the roster, as they do in 2013. As is the case this year, the Tiger manager was at the helm of the American League All-Stars in ’85. Back then it was grey-haired Sparky Anderson, who at the age of 51, was considerably younger at that time than Jim Leyland is for his turn this season. “Smoky” is 68 years old. Given the way the All-Star festivities can drone on like Academy Award ceremonies, one wonders if Leyland will be able to stay awake all evening in New York for this year’s game.
But, back to the summer of ’85, when the #1 song was “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner, and the most-watched show in America was all about the upper-middle class lives of the Huxtables in The Cosby Show. The Tigers were coming off the magical season of 1984, when they couldn’t do anything wrong. In ’85, they started the year with six wins, and it looked like maybe they would roar to a great start again, but they cooled, and by the All-Star break the team was in third place, 3 1/2 games behind their rivals, the Blue Jays. Their record, interestingly enough, was 48-37, a mark very similar to that of this year’s Tiger club.
Back then, the All-Star manager had a lot more sway in choosing the reserves and pitching staff for the team, and Sparky nabbed four of his guys for the squad: shortstop Alan Trammell, reliever Willie Hernandez, and starting pitchers Jack Morris and Dan Petry. Lance Parrish and Lou Whitaker were selected by the fan vote to start the game. Parrish had to miss the game due to an injury and was replaced by Chicago’s Carlton Fisk. Still, six Tigers were on the All-Star team, the most of any club.
The DH was not in use (there was a ridiculous rule that alternated the use of the designated hitter in even-numbered years), so the AL lineup looked like this:
- Rickey Henderson, CF
- Lou Whitaker, 2B
- George Brett, 3B
- Eddie Murray, 1B
- Cal Ripken Jr., SS
- Dave Winfield, RF
- Jim Rice, LF
- Carlton Fisk, C
- Jack Morris, P
Except for the two Tigers in that starting lineup, every player is now in the Hall of Fame. Eight more future Hall of Famers were on the rosters of the two teams, and both managers – Sparky and the NL’s Dick Williams – also went on to earn induction to the Hall. It was a star-studded All-Star Game.
The game was played on July 16, the same day the 2013 All-Star Game will be played. But the ’85 game was really a dud, despite the presence of so many legendary players. How much of a yawner was it? The AL scored their only run on a sacrifice fly by Brett. The NL, as they usually did back then, romped to victory, 6-1. Even though the Metrodome was a home run hitting paradise, there were no home runs in the game, the NL plating their runs on a series of walks, singles, and doubles. The Tiger contingent didn’t fare well – Morris and Petry combined for three innings and allowed four earned runs. Peaches was obviously nervous – he walked three batters and only retired one. Sweet Lou and Tram were 0-for-3 and never appeared together in the game.
This was also the All-Star Game where Whitaker had to wear a souvenir jersey because he had left his uniform and other game items at home. The #1 on the back of his uniform (which was purchased at a souvenir stand) was written in with magic marker. He also borrowed shoes, batting gloves, and a helmet.
Someday, maybe Morris or Sweet Lou or Tram (or all three) will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, giving the great 80’s Tiger teams some representation from the player-side in Cooperstown. For now, Whitaker and Morris stand out as the only non-Hall of Famers who were in the All-Star Game lineup 28 years ago, when the Tigers were well represented at the Midsummer Classic one year after winning the pennant.