Monday, July 11, 2016


The American League went down to a 7-3 defeat in the 1956 All-Star Game, played on July 10th in Washington's Griffith Stadium. All of their runs came on a pair of 6th-inning home runs by Ted Williams (with a runner on) and Mickey Mantle off Braves' ace Warren Spahn. For Williams, his 4thand lastAll-Star home run hardly was as dramatic as any of his first three, in part because his league was already trailing by five runs. For Mantle, it was his 2nd All-Star home run, after a 3-run blast he hit the previous year. Although he played in 12 more All-Star Games, it also turned out to be the last for Mickey Mantle, All Star, as well as his last All-Star run batted in.

Introducing Your 1956 American League All-Stars (60 Years Ago)

Given they had a 6½ -game lead over both the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians and had won exactly two-thirds of their games, it was no surprise that the New York Yankees had the most players on the 1956 AL All-Star squadsix. Batting fourth and fifth in manager Casey Stengel's All-Star starting line-up, although they hit third and fourth in Stengel's Yankee line-up, were Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. Mantle was having an epic year, leading the universewell, the majors, anywayin runs (70), homers (29), RBIs (71), and batting (.371).

The other Yankee All-Stars were second baseman Billy Martin, making the All-Star team for the first and only time in his playing career; their Mr. Versatility, infielder Gil McDougald, whose only previous All-Star selection was in his second big league season in 1952; and pitchers Whitey Ford and Johnny Kucks. 

In just his second year, Kucks was 11-4 and had become an unexpectedly important contributor to the Yankee cause because both Bob Turley, who was 17-13 with a 3.06 ERA in 247 innings the previous season, and southpaw Tommy Byrne, whose 16-5 record was the AL's best winning percentage in 1955, were pitching poorly so far this year. Ford, 10-4, had thrown 3 scoreless innings starting the 1954 All-Star Game and also pitched in the 1955 Game, giving up 5 runs in 1⅔ innings.

Neither Yankee pitcher started for the 1956 American League All-Stars. That honor went to White Sox ace Billy Pierce, who had won 13 of 16 decisions. Pierce had also been the starting pitcher for the American League in the 1955 All-Star Game.

The fifth-place Red Sox had five players make the All-Star team, including left fielder Ted Williams and first baseman Mickey Vernon in the starting line-up. Williams was voted in despite not starting any games between April 18 (the 2nd game of the year) and May 29 (34 games later) because of a foot injury when he slipped in the showers, which limited him in the games between to coming off the bench as a pinch hitter. 

Indicative of the difference in the two leagues when it came to integration, in this the 10th year since Jackie Robinson's 1947 debut, the National League All-Star team included seven black players from five different teamsFrank Robinson and Brooks Lawrence from the Reds; Hank Aaron from the Braves; Roy Campanella and Jim Gilliam from the Dodgers; Ernie Banks from the Cubs; and Willie Mays from the Giants. The American League All-Stars, by contrast, included just two black players, both from the same team. 

They were Kansas City Athletics first baseman Vic Power and outfielder Harry Simpson. Power had also made the 1955 AL All-Star team, getting into the game as a pinch hitter. Simpson, who broke in with Cleveland in 1951 but had spent all of 1954 back in the minors, was having an extraordinary year. His 60 RBIs at the break were second to Mantle.

Neither of the American League's outstanding and most prominent black players since integration made the 1956 All-Star squad. Larry Doby, who made seven straight All-Star teams from 1949 to 1955 playing for the Indians, was not selected in his first year with the White Sox. The 32-year-old Doby got off to a sluggish start with his new club and was injured for part of May, but had a strong June with 8 homers, 27 RBIs, and a .290 batting average in 30 games that month. Not enough to be named an All-Star. Doby's teammate, Minnie Minoso, a four-time previous All-Star, also did not make the 1956 AL team despite 45 run scored, 37 RBIs, and .311 batting average, as well as having hit .348 in the month of June. 

For all their excellence, both players had started All-Star games just onceDoby in 1950 and Minoso in 1954and remained, as of 1956, the only two black players to ever start for the American League team. As of 1956, Doby, Minoso, Satchel Paige in 1953, and now Simpson were the only black players to be American League All-Stars. 

Of course, that was not so much about snubbing black players for the AL All-Star team, whether by the fans voting or the managers selecting, as it was there were so few blacks on the rosters of American League teams.

The following is the list of the American League's starting position players, reserves, and pitchers for the 1956 All-Star Game with their key stats up to the All-Star break:

Kuenn, DET, SS
38 R
42 RBI
Fox, CHI, 2B
54 R
28 RBI
Williams, BOS, LF
21 R 39 GS
     5 HR      30 RBI
Mantle, NYY, CF
70 R
29 HR  
71 RBI
Berra, NYY, C
44 R
18 HR 
51 RBI
Kaline, DET, RF
48 R
12 HR 
54 RBI
Vernon, BOS, 1B
31 R
  8 HR  
41 RBI
Kell, BAL, 3B
23 R
27 RBI

McDougald, NYY, SS
30 RBI
Martin, NYY, 2B
23 RBI
Lollar, CHI, C
44 RBI
Boone, DET, 3B
12 HR 
33 RBI
Maxwell, DET, OF
17 HR 
39 RBI
Piersall, BOS, OF
35 RBI
Sievers, WAS, OF
17 HR 
54 RBI
Power, KC, 1B
52 GS
25 RBI
Simpson, KC, OF
12 HR 
60 RBI

Pierce, CHI * ( SP / ASG )
17 GS
Brewer, BOS
16 GS
Kucks, NYY
15 GS
Jim Wilson, CHI
15 GS
Ford, NYY *
16 GS
Wynn, CLE
17 GS
Sullivan, BOS
17 GS
Score, CLE *
15 GS
Narleski, CLE
    4 SV     
25 G relief
*  Left-handed pitcher

No comments:

Post a Comment