I thought I'd been offered a plum assignment, covering the 1967 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, held for the first time in my hometown of Anaheim, Calif., in its new stadium. I was a cub reporter for the Anaheim Bulletin and contributed little to our coverage. All the newspapers' front-line baseball writers were on hand and my editor, Doug Miles, sent as many of us to the game as wanted, likely me just for the experience. Only later did I find out why not all the staffers cared to go.
It was my first and only time in the press box of an MLB game, seated among some of the greatest writers of the era. The one I remember being most in awe of was Jim Murray, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
A few things are still crystal clear. The game dragged on forever, 15 innings for a 2-1 National League victory. At the time, it was the longest All-Star game on record. One could admire the pitching duel, but most people came to see the sluggers--Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew and Rusty Staub among them. On that day, however, the hurlers dominated; there were 30 strikeouts.
NBC covered the game, with its big-name broadcasters Curt Gowdy, Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax, one of my childhood heroes who had retired the year before, seated not far away. Jim Simpson, Tony Kubek and Buddy Blattner called the game on the radio.
Most of the reporters, notorious for being poor dressers, wore ties. I wore a gaudy fire-truck red long sleeve shirt (really) and maybe even a white tie. I'm sure about the shirt, less certain about the tie.
When I got back to the office that afternoon, the jaded veterans who had skipped the game asked me, rather sarcastically, how exciting it must have been, laboring through 15 innings to see 3 measly runs scored.
The last time I talked about the game was while interviewing Tom Seaver a couple of years ago. He was a rookie with the New York Mets in 1967 and he came on as the closer for the National League in the 15th inning. He had an amazing recollection of that day, knowing he might face some of the greatest hitters of all time, an altogether different memory than mine.