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On This Date in Sports July 19, 1977: Bronx All-Stars

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The All-Star Game returns to New York as the recently renovated Yankee Stadium hosts the Mid-Summer Classic for the third time. The National League gets off to a quick start as Joe Morgan of the Cincinnati Reds hits a leadoff home run off Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles. The National League would score four runs in the first inning and win the game 7-5, holding off a late rally by the American League. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Don Sutton allowed just one hit in three innings to win MVP honors.

Heading into the All-Star Game, nerves were on edge as a blackout plunged all five boroughs into darkness. When the lights went out, the New York Mets were hosting a game against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning. The game would be suspended as the two teams had to shower in the dark; later, the Cubs returned to their hotel rooms, climbing 16 flights of stairs. While the Cubs prepared for a steamy night without air-conditioning, the city of New York turned to pandemonium with fires and widespread looting. It would take 25 hours to restore power, as New York was left bruised and battered. Even before the blackout, things were bleak in New York as crime was out of control and areas of the city were filled with danger, as the city was forced to cut services as it appeared to be heading toward bankruptcy. Add to this the “Son of Sam” Killings, and you had a baseball game played in the middle of a powder keg.

Things had changed significantly since the first two times the Yankees hosted the mid-summer classic. In 1939, the game was still in its infancy as Lou Gehrig was made an honorary member of the American League team after being recently forced to retire after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The AL would win that game 3-1. In the second All-Star Game in 1960 in the Bronx, the National League rolled to a 6-0 win, as Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants homered in his return to New York in the second All-Star Game of the season.

The 1977 All-Star Game was hardly a game to remember for Jim Palmer, who gave up three home runs and five earned runs before being removed with nobody out in the third inning. After Joe Morgan’s leadoff home run, the National League added to the lead with a single by Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates and a double by the Reds George Forster. Greg Luzinski of the Philadelphia Phillies later hit a two-run home run. Meanwhile, Don Sutton found his groove quickly, allowing just one hit in three innings while striking out four. Sutton’s Dodger teammate added to the National League’s lead by starting off the third inning with a home run to chase Palmer from the game. 

The AL got on the board with a two-run double by Richie Zisk of the Chicago White Sox in the sixth inning against Tom Seaver. The Reds pitcher received one of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions, as he was returning to New York a month after being traded by the Mets. Willie Randolph of the host Yankees would give fans more to cheer in the seventh inning by cutting the NL’s lead to 5-3 with an RBI single off Seaver. It would be as close as the game would get as San Diego Padres budding star Dave Winfield drove home two runs with a single against Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle. The Pirates reliever would retire Randolph and Thurman Munson to earn the save. The American League would close out the scoring as George Scott of the Boston Red Sox hit a two-run home against Goose Gossage. With the 7-5 win, the National League continued its dominance in All-Star Games. It was the sixth straight win for the senior circuit and the 18th win in 20 games as they improved their all-time record to 29-18-1.

The Yankees would go on to win the World Series, becoming the third team to host an All-Star Game and win the Fall Classic in the same year, having previously done it in 1939. The only other team to host an All-Star Game and win the World Series in the same season was the 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers. The summer of 1977 would forever be remembered as the most tumultuous in the history of the Big Apple, as things started to settle down once the “Son of Sam” was caught. That suspended game at Shea Stadium was completed on September 16th, with the Cubs winning 5-2 as Ray Burris went all the way in a complete game that took 66 days to finish.