Dean Stone died last week.
Stone was a pitcher in the 1950s and 1960s, predominantly with the Washington Senators. His best year was 1954, when he went 12-10. He was 7-2 at the All-Star break, and named to his only all-star team as a substitute for the injured George Kell.
In that midsummer classic, the second of four played at Cleveland Stadium, Stone became the answer to a trivia question: He was the only pitcher to get a win in an All-Star Game without officially facing a batter.
Stone was called into the game in the top of the eighth in relief of White Sox hurler Bob Keegan, who’d gotten the first two outs, but then gave up a two-run home run to Gus Bell to give the National League an 8-7 lead. Red Schoendienst reached on a misplayed fly ball by Minnie Minoso and took second, and then advanced to third on a single by Alvin Dark.
Giants manager Leo Durocher was coaching third, and he noticed that Stone wasn’t even looking at Schoendienst, so he sent Schoendienst on Stone’s third pitch. “The plan worked perfectly,” Durocher said after the game. Right up until it didn’t. Stone, throwing from the stretch, put the ball right in catcher Yogi Berra’s hands. Berra put the tag down, Schoendienst was out, and the inning was over.
After the game, Durocher was fuming, believing the only reason Schoendienst was out was because Stone hadn’t come fully set. “If he had gone through with his stretch, brought his hands down and stopped before pitching, Red would have been in the dugout before he got the ball to Berra,” Durocher said in the next day’s Plain Dealer.
Durocher said umpire Bill Stewart should have called a balk, scoring Schoendienst and moving Dark to third. The batter was Duke Snider, who could have done some damage as well – and Stan Musial was on deck. “That call was a disgrace,” Durocher said. “Every person in the ball park saw the play except the one man who should have. He just missed it and it cost us one run for sure and no telling how many more.”
“I saw the entire play perfectly,” Stewart said. “And there was no doubt in my mind about it at all. When he saw the runner break, he immediately brought his hands to his belt and threw. He quickened up his motion and just came to a brief stop – but that’s all right.”
Stone’s spot in the lineup came up in the bottom of the eighth, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter, the Indians’ Larry Doby, who hit a game-tying home run off Gene Conley, who then gave up back-to-back singles to Mickey Mantle and Berra and walked Al Rosen to load the bases. Conley was lifted for Carl Erskine, who struck out pinch-hitter Mickey Vernon looking, but gave up a two-run single to Nellie Fox to give the American League the lead. With it, Stone became the pitcher of record.
In the top of the ninth, Virgil Trucks came on. He gave up a leadoff walk to the Duke and then retired Musial, Gil Hodges and Randy Jackson to end the game. After his career ended, Stone returned to his native Illinois, where he was humble about his career. “It was exciting at the time, but it’s not too exciting anymore,” he was quoted as having said in 1979, in a story about his death last week at the Quad City Times.
Photo: 1956 Topps Baseball card