The fourth post in Red Reporter's count down of the 10 Greatest Moments in Reds All Star History. This is my attempt to rank the most memorable and exciting moments relevant to the Cincinnati Reds in the history of the Mid-Summer Classic.
July 11, 1950
Ewell "The Whip" Blackwell got his biopic yesterday. While his performance in the '47 game in Wrigley was excellent, the drama was turned up a notch when NL Manager Burt Shotton brought him in to pitch the 12th in 1950. No one really relishes All Star extra innings, especially during the era game was strictly exhibition and had no playoff implications. The Cartoon Crossover novelty wears off, players have more opportunities to be injured and pitchers may exceed their inning limits or be used even though they were tagged as "unavailable." Still, an extra inning All Star Game is probably more exciting than the alternative.
The 1950 edition was played at the first Comiskey Park in Chicago on July 11, just two weeks after the effective start of the Korean War. Robin Roberts started for the NL, Vic Raschi of the Yankees for the AL. In a testament to the truth that all old complaints are new again, the AL was heavy on Yankees and Red Sox, starting the Sox Walt Dropo, Ted Williams, Dom Dimaggio and Bobby Doerr alongside Yankees Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and Raschi. Joe DiMaggio loomed on he bench. NL All Stars included Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Warren Spahn. Blackwell was joined by his Reds teammate, outfielder Johnny Wyrostek.
The AL held a 3-2 advantage until the top of the 9th, when the Pirates' Ralph Kiner took Art Houtemann deep to even the score. The AL was unable to answer in the bottom half facing Larry Jansen. Bonus Baseball. In an all too familiar scenario, the bats fell silent on both sides in Extras. The Whip took over for Jansen in the bottom of the 12th and made relatively quick work of the AL, striking out his first two batters faced and coaxing a lineout from roughly the 26th Yankee to enter the game, Tim Henrich. 1-2-3.
The score remained knotted at 3-3 when Blackwell came on for the lucky 13th. Rizutto, Doby and Kell went down in order, with CF Andy Pafko guiding another well-hit ball into his glove. The Pirates Red Schoendienst, the most poorly named a sleeper agent the Reds ever employed, lead off the 14th with a home run. Blackwell came to the plate as the first batter to face Bob Feller, with one out and Pafko on first. which signaled Ewell would be the one to attempt closing out the game. That, and Warren Spahn, Preacher Roe and Bob Rush probably either weren't available or interested in pitching. The decision certainly wasn't made on Blackwell's bat - he was a lifetime .174/.196/.212 hitter. He struck out, Feller got out of the inning and the NL lead 4-3.
Blackwell faced a DiMaggio Bread sandwich in the Bottom of the 14th. Dom lead off the inning with a bunt groundout. The Philadelphia Athletics' Ferris Fain then singled to bring up Joe with one out. The Yankee Clipper could end the game on one swing or keep it limping along with a hit of any stripe. Instead, he jolted into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game and answer the question, if only for that day, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" Back to the clubhouse.
Blackwell's final line was 3 IP, 0 ER, 1 H and 2 K. He was responsible for a mammoth 51.4% win probability swing in those three innings pitched. While other Reds' pitchers have racked up more strikeouts in All Star appearances, this was an easy candidate for most exciting appearance of all time.