On This Date in Sports July 15, 1986: Texas Sized All-Stars

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The All-Star Game comes to the Astrodome for the second time, as Texas native Roger Clemens takes the mound representing the Boston Red Sox. Clemens, who had 20 strikeouts in April, is the star of the show, with three perfect innings to earn MVP honors as the American League wins the game 3-2. The game would tragically be the final for Kansas City Royals manager Dick Howser, diagnosed with a brain tumor and passing away 11 months later. 

For the second time, the MLB All-Stars came to the Houston Astrodome. The previous All-Star Game at the Astrodome was a 1-0 thriller in the year of the pitcher, 1968. Pitchers were the story in 1986 as Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox was given the start by Dick Howser, while Whitey Herzog of the St. Louis Cardinals selected New York Mets' ace Dwight Gooden to start for the National League. Gooden was the youngest starting pitcher in All-Star Game history at the age of 21. He was one of four Mets to start the game, including catcher Gary Carter, first baseman Keith Hernandez, and right-fielder Darryl Strawberry. 

It was an era in which the National League dominated the All-Star Game. Heading into the 1986 midsummer classic, the NL had won 13 of 14 and 22 of 24 All-Star Games since 1963. Vice President George Bush tossed out the first pitch, as everyone anticipated a great pitcher's duel with Gooden and Clemens on the mound. Both starting pitchers went three innings, with Roger Clemens not allowing a base runner and striking out two, while Gooden ran into trouble in the second. Dave Winfield of the New York Yankees hit a two-out double, with Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers following with a home run to give the AL a 2-0 lead. 

The middle innings features two hurlers from Mexico as Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers allowed one hit and struck out five in three innings, while Teddy Higuera allowed one hit and two walks in three innings, representing the Milwaukee Brewers. In the seventh inning, Mike Scott of the Astros took the mound and struck out the first two batters before Frank White of the Royals homered to give the American League a 3-0 lead. Charlie Hough of the Texas Rangers pitched a perfect seventh for the AL, while Sid Fernandez of the Mets struck out three after walking the first two batters in the eighth inning. 

The National League finally scratched out two runs in the eighth, as Chris Brown of the San Francisco Giants scored on a passed ball by Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman. Hough also had a wild pitch in the inning, as his knuckleball was dancing. Hubie Brooks, who struck out, reached base on the passed ball and later scored on a single by Steve Sax of the Dodgers. Dave Righetti of the Yankees got Glenn Davis of the Astros to pop out to end the inning. 

In the ninth inning, the National League had a threat against Righetti, as Jody Davis of the Chicago Cubs and Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds had a pair of singles with one out. Don Aase of the Baltimore Orioles came on and got Chris Brown to hit into a game-ending double play. 


The 1986 All-Star Game would have a tragic proscript. Dick Howser, who led the Royals to a World Series Championship in 1985, had begun to feel ill, would be diagnosed with a brain tumor following the game. He would miss the second half of the season after surgery to remove the tumor. He attempted to return in 1987 but resigned in spring training after his cancer returned. On June 17, 1987, Howser died at the age of 51.