MLB All-Star Game returns to LA after 42 years

Fox airs 92nd Midsummer Classic

Joe Davis and John Smoltz

Given its status as one of baseball’s premier franchises, it may seem somewhat surprising that the Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t hosted an All-Star Game in 42 years.

Yes, it was on July 8, 1980, when the National League defeated the American 4-2 behind the stellar pitching of Jerry Reuss and the clutch hitting of George Hendrick and game MVP Ken Griffey Sr., that the Dodgers last hosted a Midsummer Classic, which also happened to be the first at Dodger Stadium.

Now, the annual AL vs. NL exhibition contest returns to Chavez Ravine on Tuesday, July 19, when the stars come out for the 92nd All-Star Game. Joe Davis and John Smoltz will call the action for Fox in a contest that will be hosted by the Dodgers for the fourth time.

The first took place in 1949, when the Dodgers called Brooklyn their home and Ebbetts Field their home turf. That game is most noteworthy for having the first African American players in All-Star play as the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe were on the NL roster and the Cleveland Indians’ Larry Doby played for the AL. The Dodgers were also well-represented here, as Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Ralph Branca and Preacher Roe were also on hand.

The game itself was a total dud for the Dodgers and the National League, however, as five NL errors paved the way for an 11-7 American League victory, its 12th in 16 contests to that point. And worse for the Dodgers, Newcombe took the loss.

Ten years later in 1959, Dodger Stadium was still under construction when Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum played host to the second of two All-Star Games that year (the first being at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field), the 27th overall and first held on the West Coast.

In that contest, the Dodgers again were in force with four players on the NL roster but the results were familiar as L.A.’s Don Drysdale started and took the loss in a 5-3 AL victory.

This year, the NL hopes to gain a measure of revenge after its 5-2 loss last year at Denver’s Coors Field, which gave the AL a 46-43 overall edge in All-Star play. With Dodger Stadium serving as a backdrop, that certainly can’t hurt their chances.

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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