In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
It is an All-Star Game for the ages, as the American League wins the midsummer classic for the first time since 1962 by winning 6-4 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. All ten runs come courtesy of the home run, as a record-tying six home runs are hit, previously done in 1954. Each of the six home runs is hit by a future Hall of Famer, highlighted by a home run by Reggie Jackson of the Oakland Athletics that hits the lighting fixture on the roof, as Frank Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles is name MVP.
It was an era in which the National League dominated the All-Star Game over a 20-year stretch; the American League won just once; this is that game. The National League came into the 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit, having lost just once since 1960. This included several classic dramatic wins, a walk-off home run in 1964, and three extra-inning wins, including 1970 when Pete Rose ran over Ray Fosse in the 12th inning. The last win by the AL was the second All-Star Game in 1962, meaning they had not won since the MLB went back to one game and had lost eight straight.
Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson, leading the National League, picked Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates to start the game on the mound, while Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles picked Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics to start for the American League. It was the first time two black pitchers started the All-Star Game.
After a scoreless first inning, the NL took a 2-0 lead in the second, as Johnny Bench of the Reds went yard against Blue, as Willie Stargell of the Pirates was hit by a pitch to start the inning. In the third inning, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves made it 3-0 with a solo shot. The game would turn in the American League's favor in the bottom of the third. Luis Aparicio of the Chicago White Sox led off with a single. Reggie Jackson came up as a pinch hitter for A's teammate Vida Blue and hit one of the longest home runs in All-Star history. The ball thrown by Ellis struck the light station on the roof in rightfield and came back on the field. It was still rising when it struck the light tower and would have gone out of the stadium completely. Rod Carew of the Minnesota Twins followed with a walk. After Ellis retired the next two batters, Frank Robinson came to the plate and homered to give the American League a 4-3 lead.
Orioles aces Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar shut down the National League over the next three innings, while Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants had two strong innings to keep the score locked at 4-3. Ferguson Jenkins of the Chicago Cubs took the mound in the sixth and gave up a leadoff hit to Luis Aparicio of the Boston Red Sox. Harmon Killebrew of the Twins came to the plate and extended the lead to 6-3 with a long home run.
The National League would draw closer in the eighth, as Roberto Clemente of the Pirates homered off Mickey Lolich of the host Tigers. Lolich would settle down and retired the next five batters to preserve the American League's 6-4 win. The win was an oasis in a desert for the Junior Circuit as the NL won the next 11 games before the American League won again in 1983.