Remembering the Fenway Park All-Star Game of 1961


You always remember your first – All-Star Game that is.

Boston’s Fenway Park has been host to three of them: 1946 and 1999 stand out as memorable, and one stands out as forgettable.

People make mistakes. As we get older, we accumulate a lush resume of them which we, if the mood presents itself, can recall with vivid clarity. Some reflections amuse us. Some make us cringe. Some make us learn. Some we end up in therapy over. Some become known as an “ex.”

Animals make them. I live in a rural area and road kill is common. Tragic animal mistakes.

Businesses also make them, too.

Ford tried the Edsel.

McDonald’s attempted pizza.

Baseball once had two All-Star Games.

In 1961 the second AS Game was scheduled for Fenway Park and I managed to go.

My father disliked baseball and the only game he ever attended with me, Mel Parnell tossed a no-hitter. He was going to attend a Jimmy Fund charity game with me that was to be between the Milwaukee Braves and Red Sox. Dad canceled and my mother got trapped.

The good thing is my father was a repository for tickets. A phone call and it was the will call window for myself and my BFF Jon.

I was now officially licensed, but my mother refused to turn over the keys to her Olds 98 battle cruiser for the journey, so it was old school. Eastern Street Railway Company and MTA – MBTA was still years away.

The usual route was by bus to Brockton and then on to Ashmont Station, MTA to Washington Street – now Downtown Crossing – and a trip on the Green Line to Kenmore. My father tossed us a twenty for fare and food and off we went.

We had some nice seats down the left-field side of the field. Back in those days they were designated “Lower Grandstand” and today they are box seats. In fact the ballpark was not even filled.

More from Red Sox History

Rocky Colavito was a player I always liked. Rocky was powerful right-handed hitter who was deadly at Fenway. Bob Purkey started for the NL and he had something of a quirky side armed delivery. Rocky took it out of the park in the first inning and that was it for AL scoring for the game. I had an excellent view of that shot. I’d love to see Rocky rebooted and brought to Fenway for the current addition. Just what they need.

Don Schwall of the Red Sox was pitching in the sixth (yes, I had to look up the action) and he gave up the tying run on an infield single by Bill White, yes, the same White who became National League President a few decades later. That was your ball game. 1-1. Rain ended it after nine. And that rainout call was quick, since the travel schedule dictated that as being necessary.

I did get to see some NL players I had never seen. Sandy Koufax pitched two innings. Roberto Clemente was in the game. Stan Musial pinch hit. Other NL players I had seen through the years in New York when my mother would take me to Ebbets Field or the Polo Grounds.

What stood out as I reflect back is the way the managers played the game. They didn’t go deep into their staffs. In fact, the AL gave three innings to each pitcher. No ten pitchers in the game. The rosters were set at 28 and were not pitcher heavy.

Baseball came to their senses and soon canned the second AS Game. But in another area, they went to the extreme: a real Little League approach where if you get named you play. Fine until you run out of pitchers, which is exactly what happened in the 7-7 tie in 2002.