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On This Date in Sports July 17, 1979: Kingdoome All-Star Thriller

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The National League wins an All-Star thriller at the Kingdome in Seattle, 7-6. Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates shines, with his cannon arm, throwing out two players including Brian Downing of the California Angels who was thrown out at home in the eighth inning. Parker would earn MVP honors, as Lee Mazzilli of the New York Mets tied the game with a home run and won the game walking with the bases loaded.

With the seasons that two All-Star Games were played counted, the 50th All-Star Game was played in 1979 at Seattle’s Kingdome. It was just the second All-Star Game played indoors, as the Seattle Mariners a third-year expansion team looked to build the game in the Pacific Northwest. Despite being fired in June with the New York Yankees forever revolving door as manager, Bob Lemon was the manager American League, while Tom Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers led the National League for the second straight year, hoping to extend the NL’s dominance.

Nolan Ryan Angels started the game by striking out the first two batters but ran into trouble after Steve Garvey of the Los Angeles Dodgers walked as Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies tripled and George Foster of the Cincinnati Reds doubled to give the NL an early 2-0 lead. Steve Carlton of the Phillies also struggled in the first as Don Baylor of the Angels doubled home George Brett of the Kansas City Royals who walked after being kissed by Morgana the Kissing Bandit. Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox followed with a two-run home run to make it 3-2 in favor of the American League after one inning of play.

The NL would tie the game right away as Dave Parker drove in Phillies catcher Bob Boone with a sacrifice fly in the second. The National League would take the lead one inning later off Bob Stanley of the Red Sox, as Mike Schmidt scored on a grounder by Dave Winfield of the San Diego Padres. The game though continued to go back and forth as they scored two runs of Joaquin Andujar of the Houston Astros as Boston vet Carl Yastrzemski singled in Baylor, while Chet Lemon scored on a Mike Schmidt throwing error.

The game settled down with American League-leading 5-4 until the sixth inning as Dave Winfield doubled and later scored on an RBI single by Montreal Expos catcher Gary Carter. The AL though would get the run back right away as the Mariners lone representative Bruce Bochte had an RBI single that pushed across pinch-runner Rick Burleson of the Red Sox. The American League looked to extend their 6-5 lead in the seventh as Jim Rice led off with a shot down the right-field line, but was thrown out at third by Dave Parker, trying to stretch a double into a triple.

With Jim Kern of the Texas Rangers on in the eighth, the National League tied the score 6-6 with a pinch-hit home run by Lee Mazzilli. Kern settled down the rest of the way as the American League looked to answer against Chicago Cubs reliever Bruce Sutter in the bottom of the inning. Brian Downing of the Angels started the inning right, with a single and was bunted over to second by Bochte. Following an intentional walk to Yankees star Reggie Jackson, Sutter was able to strike out Bobby Grich of the Angels to set up one of the most dramatic defensive plays in All-Star history. With two outs Craig Nettles of the Yankees singled to right, Downing appeared to be on the way to scoring the go-ahead run but was thrown out at home on a laser from Dave Parker to Gary Carter who had a perfect block of the plate to keep the game tied 6-6.

In the ninth inning, the National League started a rally quietly as Joe Morgan of the Reds walked with one out. After a balk, Parker who did damage with his arm was intentionally walked to set up a double play. Kern was able to retire Craig Reynolds of the Astros with an infield fly but walked Dodgers star Ron Cey to load the bases. With Lee Mazzilli strolling to the plate, Jim Kern was replaced by Yankees starter Ron Guidry who came in and walked Maz to give the NL a 7-6 lead. Guidry would end the inning by getting Winfield on a ground out, but the National League went to the field, three outs from an eight straight All-Star win.

Bruce Sutter quickly got the first two batters as Ken Singleton of the Baltimore Orioles grounded out to second and Jim Rice was struck out. Chet Lemon of the Chicago White Sox was able to work out a walk, but Sutter ended the game by fanning Burleson.

Dave Parker was named All-Star MVP with his defensive heroics, while Lee Mazzilli of the Mets who was making the only All-Star appearance of his career was overlooked, despite a game-tying home run and an RBI walk that won the game.