I was trying to identify who the midseason candidates for the postseason awards have been for the past few years. Beginning with Cy Young, I looked at the All-Star Game starters. Not a great place, but generally the All-Star starters are at least in the discussion at the break for the Cy Young award.
While going through the All-Star rosters and starting pitchers, I was reminded that Jack Armstrong started an All-Star Game. Yep, Jack Armstrong. It was 1990. (You may know him of the father of one of Vanderbilt University’s pitchers, who goes by the same name and was drafted by the Astros in the third round last month.) But the elder Armstrong was dominant over the first half of 1990 going 11-3 with a 2.28 ERA. Opponents hit just .222 off him. Then the All-Star Game happened. After the big night, Armstrong was more like Armweak going 1-6 with a 5.96 ERA and losing his spot in the rotation. He pitched well in one postseason appearance out of the bullpen for the champion Reds. He tossed three shutout innings in Game 2 of the World Series.
Charlie Lea started a game as well. That was 1984. It was also the year Fernando Valenzuela and Doc Gooden combined to strike out six batters in a row, three of them now in the Hall of Fame. (This on the 50th anniversary of Carl hubbell’s record-setting five strikeouts in a row, which were all Hall of Famers.) By the way, the Hall of Famers from the 1984 game were 1-for-4 off Lea as George Brett homered. Lea was the winning pitcher in the NLs 3-1 win.
I then got lost poking through all the All-Star Game box scores.
The year 1963 (when I was about six months old) seemed like a pretty good place to start. In that game, Hall of Famers were 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as pinch-hitters. Hall of Famer Jim Bunning retired Stan Musial on a lineout to right. Carl Yastrzemski couldn’t solve Ray Culp and fouled out to second. Hal Woodeshick caught Harmon Killebrew looking. Then Dick Radatz, known as the Monster (affectionately, I’m sure) whiffed both Willie McCovey and Duke Snider.
Ray Culp appeared again in 1969 — this time for the American League — and struck out Hall of Famer Tony Perez, retired Pete Rose, then whiffed Randy Hundley (of Fantasy Camp fame). So, in two All-Star appearances, Culp faced seven hitters, gave up a single and retired three Hall of Famers plus Pete Rose. Maybe he should have made more All-Star teams.
That was Woodeshick’s only All-Star appearance and he tossed two scoreless innings giving up a single and walk.
Dick Radatz, who appeared in 381 games, all in relief, didn’t fair too well in 1964 in his only other All-Star Game. After two perfect innings in which he struck out four, the national Leaguers got to the ace reliever in the bottom of the ninth. With a one-run lead, Willie Mays led off with a walk and stole second. Orlando Cepeda singled home Mays to tie the game. After a Ken Boyer (who had homered earlier in the game) popout, manager Al Lopez ordered an intentional walk to Johnny Edwards — a career .251 hitter at the time who Radatz had struck out earlier— to bring up pinch-hitter Hank Aaron. (Yeah, that’s smart.) Well, amazingly, it did work out. Aaron whiffed. Problem was, Johnny Callison then took Radatz deep for a walk-off three-run homer.
Didn’t Lopez understand that Aaron was on the bench? Ron Hunt was the scheduled hitter. Surely, he didn’t think Walter Alston would send Hunt up with the game on the line in lieu of Aaron. Ron Santo, Bill Mazeroski and Smokey Burgess were players also available to Alston. Maybe Lopez was afraid the Commissioner would declare the game a tie and just wanted to get it over with.