Tonight’s MLB All-Star Game is the 50th anniversary of the 1971 All-Star Game. That was the first time two African-American pitchers started: Oakland’s Vida Blue for the American League, the Pirates’ Dock Ellis for the National League. (Ellis was not tripping on LSD.)
It was history.
That same season, on Sept. 1, the Pirates became the first MLB team to field an all-black lineup.
“It really wasn’t a major thing, until around the third or fourth inning, and Dave Cash was sitting next to me, and one of us said: ‘You know, we got all brothers out there, man,’ and we kind of chuckled because it was no big deal to us,” said Al Oliver, who played first base that day.
The ’71 All-Star Game wasn’t kind to either Blue or Ellis.
Blue allowed three earned runs in three innings. Ellis allowed four earned runs in three innings, and this happened:
Reggie Jackson went deep 563 times in his career and 18 more times in the post-season but just that once in the All-Star Game.
But that had to be the only time Jackson hit the ball out of camera range. Yikes. If it hadn’t hit a light tower at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, that home run might have traveled 600 feet.