Jul 16, 2013

Remembering the 1964 MLB All Star Game at Shea Stadium

The 1964 All Star Game was held at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York. At the time the area was jumping with a new excitement; Shea Stadium was a brand new $29 million dollar ball park & one of baseball's most glamorous.

It was designed by the standards of that day, to be the greatest ever built for baseball. It was huge compared to most of the smaller parks still in use at the time, with seating for 56,000 fans. It was billed as having great views of the play from every seat, since it had no columns or pillars in the sightlines, like the older parks.

The walkway rafts & escaladers were considered modern at the time, as to exit fans more quickly. Shea had its most famous feature, the tremendous state of the art scoreboard, 175 ft. long & eight stories high. A large screen in center top, originally projected photos of the players coming to bat, this was way ahead of its time in 1964.

Shea was like nothing baseball had ever seen, ushers dressed in Mets colored suits, lots of concessions & it was the most easiest park to get to at the time as well. Right next to major highways, bus routes, NYC subways & the LIRR all right outside its gates. Few remember the beauty Shea had during its first decade, as by the 1980s it had started to become outdated quickly.

Also at the same time the 1964 New York's World Fair was going on in Flushing Meadows Corona Park as well. An estimated 51 million people came to the World's Fair which cover one square mile, from April 1964 through October 1964 & then again from April-October 1965.


The Fairs theme was "Peace through Understanding", the Space age & a showcase of modern technology, including giving the public its first interactions with computers. The United States had exhibits from all parts of the country as did a grand world showcase. One of the most popular exhibits was Michelangelo's Pieta transported directly from the Vatican at Rome. Big business also had a huge part in showing off American technologies, as many large corporations had their displays.

1964 NY Worlds Fair
Some of the structures from the World's Fair still stands today, most famously the Unisphere: depicting earth in "The Space Age". Located directly at the center of the park, it was & is a symbol of "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe".

On July 7th, 1964 Shea Stadium was host to its first & only All Star Game. A crowd of just under 51,000 attended the Mid Summer Classic on a warm summer day in New York. It was a large crowd by standards of the time, but almost impossible to imagine today with the games fanfare & high priced hard to get tickets.

1964 All Star Game at Shea Stadium, Queens NY


Ron Hunt
World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Walt Alston took the helm for the NL Stars & The White Sox Al Lopez took over in place of Ralph Houk, as the AL Stars manager. Houck had briefly stepped in as GM of the AL New York team, before returning as manager later on.

One of the proudest moments of the early Mets was having their second baseman Ron Hunt start the All Star Game held at Shea Stadium. Hunt was the first Mets All Star to have a starting position.

In 1962 Richie Ashburn made the All Star reserve team, as did Duke Snider in 1963. But it was Hunt, who had no ties with other teams, that was a true Mets first time All Star for the young team, only three years in the league. In those days there was no fan voting, Hunt received the honor by getting voted in by his fellow NL Players. He was having an outstanding year, especially on the 23-58 last place Mets. He was batting .311 with 14 doubles 4 triples 3 HRs 22 RBIs & a .361 on base% at the break.

Manager Casey Stengel told the press in June, that there would be something wrong if Hunt didn't start the All Star Game. This certainly helped promote the young Ron Hunt.

According to a recent Daily News article; Hunt took his grandfather to Shea the night before the All Star game. He had his friends in the grounds crew turn on the lights to show his grandfather, who had taught him the game, the grand ball bark, it was quite a thrill for both.

The starting lineups for the game were AL: Jim Fregosi- SS / Tony Oliva -RF/ Mickey Mantle -CF/ Harmon Killebrew -LF/ Bob Allison-1B/ Brooks Robinson -3B/ Bobby Richardson -2b/ Elston Howard -C & Dean Chance on the mound.

For the NL: Roberto Clemente -RF/ Dick Groat -SS/ Billy Williams -LF/ Willie Mays -CF/ Orlando Cepeda -1B/ Ken Boyer -3B / Joe Torre -C/ Ron Hunt -2B & Don Drysdale pitching.

Mets manager Casey Stengel would coach the lines at Third base to the delight of the fans. Drysdale was shaky in the first allowing a single then a passed ball. Harmon Killebrew drove in the first run with a base hit of his own.

The Mets hometown hero; Ron Hunt, came to bat to a huge standing ovation from the Shea Faithful, in the 3rd inning & delivered with a base hit to left field. The crowd went wild. He would ground out & strike out looking later in the game. In the 9th with one out & two on, he would be pinch hit for by non other than Henry Aaron.

Ron Hunt on deck @ the '64 All Star Game
In the 4th Billy Williams & Ken Boyer both hit a HRs off pitcher John Watt, giving the NL the lead. In the 5th they added another run when Roberto Clemente singled off Camillo Pasqual & Dick Groat doubled him home. In the top of the 6th, Brooks Robinson tripled in the right center field alley, off Chris Short with two men on, to tie it at 3-3.

In the top of the 7th, future Met Jim Fregosi hit a sac fly off Turk Farrell to score Elston Howard, giving the American Leaguers a 4-3 lead which they held to the bottom of the 9th.

Johnny Callison blasts walk off HR
In the 9th, Boston's Dick Radatz (known as the Monster) was pitching his third inning, trying to close it out.

Willie Mays still a hero in New York & one the games most popular players, drew a leadoff walk. He then stole second base & scored on an Orlando Cepeda pop fly single.

Johnny Edwards drew a walk & then with two outs the Phillies Johnny Callison delivered a dramatic walk off HR that landed in the deep right field seats. It was the third walk off HR in All Star history, as Ted Williams & Stan Musial had both done it before. It still remains as one of the top All Star moments in the Mid Summer classic.

The NL players rushed to home plate to shake hands & greet Callison, as the Shea fans cheered. Quite a finish.

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