After seeing the most recent no-hitter pitched in the majors yesterday, I was reminded of some pitching feats from the past. Particularly, 50 years in the past. If you're a baseball fan of a certain age you know that 1968 was indeed the "year of the pitcher." Bob Gibson finished the season with an astonishing 1.12 earned run average. Don Drysdale had a streak of 58 scoreless innings. And Denny McLain won 31 games for the eventual World Champion Detroit Tigers. A feat that might never be repeated.
As it turns out, the prior year gave us a prelude to what was coming. All baseball fans got a preview of that unique 1968 season with the mid-summer classic that was the 1967 All-Star game in Anaheim, California.
During a marathon that lasted 15 innings, no less than 12 pitchers ( including six future Hall of Famers) from the two leagues notched a record 30 strikeouts, yielded a measly 17 total hits, and walked only two batters, both by National League hurlers.
Each of those dozen pitchers recorded at least one strikeout in a game that ended in a 2-1 victory for the senior circuit. White Sox ace Gary Peters struck out four batters, as did Jim "Catfish" Hunter of Oakland. Not to be outdone, Cubs fireballer Ferguson Jenkins tied a record with six K's of his own.
It just so happens that all three runs scored in this superstar pitching contest came on home runs. Future White Sox power hitter Dick Allen led off the second with a blast off A.L. starter Dean Chance. The great Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson soon evened the score with a shot off Jenkins in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The score then remained tied at one for the next eight innings as pitchers from both sides showed off their greatness. Tony Perez capped off the scoring with the eventual game winner in the top of the 15th when he connected with the N.L.'s second home run. This one off the aforementioned Hunter.
To begin the bottom of the fifteenth, the National League called on future White Sox player Tom Seaver. "Tom Terrific" promptly saved the game to put an end to the abundance of remarkable performances. Winning manager Walter Alston of the Los Angeles Dodgers explained it with this understatement: "That was the best exhibition of pitching I've ever seen in All-Star competition."
So, to recap: 15 innings, 3 runs, 17 hits, 2 walks, 30 strikeouts. All accomplished by 12 pitchers, including 6 future Hall of Famers. I think it's safe to assume we won't see a better performance by as many pitchers with that pedigree again in the near, or even distant future, if ever.
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