Today In Tribe History: August 9, 1981
By Vince Guerrieri
Thirty years ago today, Major League Baseball was back – and it started in Cleveland.
The All-Star Game, originally scheduled for July 14 at Municipal Stadium, was canceled during a players’ strike, which lasted from June 12 to July 31. The players and owners reached an agreement, and that year, the season would be separated into halves, with the first half winners in each division playing the second half winners in the first Division Series.
The kickoff for the second half of the season would be the rescheduled All-Star Game, which would be played Aug. 9, 1981 at Municipal Stadium. It was the fourth All-Star Game played at Cleveland Stadium, a record for a venue that has since been matched only by Yankee Stadium.
All told, eight Hall of Famers started in the Midsummer Classic, and another eight were on the bench. Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers became the second rookie pitcher to start an All-Star Game, going an inning and striking out one. He was relieved in the second by Tom Seaver of the Reds, who gave up a solo home run to Ken Singleton to put the American League on the board, 1-0.
Expos catcher Gary Carter hit his own solo home run off Ken Forsch in the top of the fifth, and in the top of the sixth, Dave Parker hit a solo blast off Mike Norris to give the National League a 2-1 lead.
But in the bottom of the sixth, the junior circuit retook the lead, as a bases-loaded single by Fred Lynn tied the game, and then Buddy Bell’s sacrifice scored another run to give the AL a 3-2 lead. With runners at the corners and two out, Ted Simmons singled to score Carlton Fisk, widening the lead to 4-2. Dusty Baker’s catch of an Al Oliver fly ball ended the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Carter hit his second home run of the game, another solo shot, to pull the National League within one, 4-3. And in the eighth, Mike Schmidt hit what turned out to be the game-winning home run off Rollie Fingers with Mike Easler on first base. The 5-4 victory was the 10th straight win in the All-Star Game for the National League.
Carter was named MVP of the game, and Vida Blue got the win, becoming the first pitcher to win an All-Star Game in both leagues (he also won the 1971 Midsummer Classic in Detroit as a member of the Athletics). Indians representatives to the game were catcher Bo Diaz and pitcher Len Barker, who threw two shutout innings before the hometown fans.
Attendance took a nosedive in the major leagues after the strike was over, but the All-Star Game in Cleveland still holds the major league attendance record of 72,086. In fact, each of the top three best-attended All-Star Games were at Municipal Stadium.