As this year’s All-Star Break wraps up, I’d like to take a look back to the 1975 All-Star Game that was played at Milwaukee County Stadium. The 46th contest between the American and National Leagues happened on July 15, 1975.
This was the first of two times in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history that the team hosted the ASG, but was the second time the game was played at County Stadium. The first time was in 1955 when the Braves were hosts. This gave County Stadium the distinction of being one of three ballparks to host the ASG with two different franchises. The others were Shibe Park in Philadelphia and Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.
In late November, 1972, at the winter meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced locations for the upcoming three All-Star Games. In 1973 the game would be held in Kansas City, 1974 in Pittsburgh, and 1975 in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig said, “We’re delighted to have the game in Milwaukee again. We’ve been working hard at getting it in our city for about a year.” He added, “It is a great thing for our franchise. It is one of sports’ premiere events and the fact that is being held in Milwaukee is a plus for everyone.”
Selig also noted some improvements to the 20+ year old ballpark were on the way, including new lighting and improvements to the press box. The County Board had also allocated $750,000 to expand seating to over 50,000, but this was contingent on getting a commitment from the Green Bay Packers to continue playing home games at County Stadium (which they did until 1994)
In the spring tickets were listed as on sale in the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper, and were sold by mail only. Fans needed to wait until after May 5 to have their envelope postmarked or it wouldn’t be accepted. In another far cry from today’s online ordering, the only accepted methods of payment were cashier’s check, certified check, or money order. Anything else would void the order. Individuals could purchase a maximum of four tickets per order at the following prices:
Box = $15
Lower Grandstand = $10
Upper Grandstand = $8
Bleacher = $4
The game was sold out virtually overnight with demand exceeding available seats several times over, according to Brewers officials. A standing room only crowd of 51,480 was announced on game day.
This was the first year the ASG had Honorary Captains, with Mickey Mantle named for the AL and Stan Musial for the NL. The NL had dominated the ASG over the previous dozen years, winning 11 games in that span.
The Brewers had six players on the ASG ballot that year – first baseman George Scott, shortstop Robin Yount, third baseman Don Money, catcher Darrell Porter, and outfielders Johnny Briggs and Hank Aaron. Just two Brewers were elected for the AL team that year –Scott and Aaron. It was Aaron’s final ASG appearance. He played in 21 All-Star Games over his career, and this was his only time in an AL uniform.
Aaron did come full circle, as his first ASG was in the 1955 County Stadium contest. In that game he collected two singles and drove in a run to help the NL to a 6-5 victory. In 1975 at age 41 he was the only player still active from the 1955 game. He tied Willie Mays and Stan Musial with 24 ASG appearances.
Aaron had just a .197 batting average with two home runs over 66 ASG at bats, but said that “I suppose, analyzing it, it’s because you don’t concentrate as much as you should. You see a pitcher one time and a new one the next. They rush in so many different pitchers, you can’t really concentrate on one pitch. One pitcher throws you one and then you see another one.”
Brewers manager Del Crandall was named to the NL coaching staff along with Billy Martin. They joined manager Alvin Dark. The NL was led by manager Walter Alston with coaches Red Scoendienst and Danny Murtaugh as coaches.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger threw out the first pitch to Rod Carew, and country artist Glen Campell sang the National Anthem. Kissinger gave a foreign policy “grass roots” address to 1050 attendees at the Milwaukee’s Plaza hotel on the eve before the game. He had also given similar speeches in Atlanta, Kansas City, and St. Louis in recent weeks. Articles about Kissinger and his wife Nancy appeared in a number of Wisconsin newspapers during the All-Star Break.
The weather had been un-summerlike in the weeks prior to the game, and was even considered chilly in June. But a warming trend put the temps in the mid-80’s under partly cloudy skies as the game started.
The game was broadcast on NBC to an estimated 50 million viewers. Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, and Curt Gowdy had the announcing duties for the game. Gowdy admitted the ASG was the most difficult game to announce due to the combination of 50 different personalities on the teams and the play by play action. The announcing team prepped by going over the season’s stats and other information with NBC statistician Alan Roth.
The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers populated most of the starting lineup for the NL in a near repeat of the previous year’s lineup. Johnny Bench of the Reds led all NL players with 2,930,147 votes. Rod Carew of the Minnesota Twins led the AL with 3,165,614 votes.
The starting lineups were as follows:
- Pete Rose RF
- Lou Brock LF
- Joe Morgan 2B
- Johnny Bench C
- Steve Garvey 1B
- Jim Wynn CF
- Ron Cey 3B
- Dave Concepcion SS
- Jerry Reuss P
- Bobby Bonds CF
- Rod Carew 2B
- Thurman Munson C
- Reggie Jackson RF
- Joe Rudi LF
- Graig Nettles 3B
- Gene Tenace 1B
- Bert Campaneris SS
- Vida Blue P
Vida Blue got the start for the AL against Jerry Ruess for the NL. Blue was followed by Steve Busby, Jim Kaat, Catfish Hunter, and Goose Gossage. Ruess was followed by Don Sutton, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, and Randy Jones.
The NL won by a score of 6-3, although it was a good game until they pulled away in the ninth inning. Matlack got the win and Hunter took the loss.
Steve Garvey and Jimmy Wynne started the scoring in the top of the second inning by hitting back to back homers off Blue. They tacked on a run the following inning off Busby to take a 3-0 lead. The AL responded in the sixth inning with a Carl Yaztremski three run homer. In the ninth inning the NL won the game after Hunter allowed two runners to start the inning, then gave way to Gossage who hit Larry Bowa with a pitch to load the bases. Bill Madlock followed with a single to drive in two runs. Pete Rose drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly.
Bill Madlock on Jon Matlack shared MVP honors, the first time this happened in the ASG.
Brewers Hank Aaron and George Scott did see action in the game, even though Aaron had been nursing a shoulder injury and was questionable to play. Scott struck out in his two trips to the plate and Aaron didn’t get a hit in a pinch hit at bat.
As for the Milwaukee Brewers team, they came into the All-Star Break just four and a half games back of the AL East leading Boston red Sox. Most of the players were realistic about contending in the second half against a division that featured better hitting and pitching. They ultimately collapsed and finished with a 68-94 record in fifth place. Del Crandall was fired as manager with just a game remaining in the season.
The ASG returned to Milwaukee in 2002 for the infamous 7-7 tie after both teams ran out of pitchers. It has not been played in Milwaukee since that ill-fated contest.
The complete rosters and box score of the 1975 ASG can be found at Baseball Reference.
If you have 3 hours and 21 minutes that you don’t know what to do with, you can see the whole game on YouTube right here.
My book Building the Brewers: Bud Selig and the Return of Major League Baseball to Milwaukee is available to be ordered on the McFarland website.