Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12, 1955: Stan The Man Leads The National League To Victory With a Walk Off Blast

     On July 12, 1955, with more than 45,000 in the stands at County Stadium in Milwaukee, Stan The Man Musial blasted a walk off solo shot in the bottom of the 12th that propelled the National League to a 6-5 comeback victory in the 22nd playing of the midsummer classic.

     Musial came into the contest during the fourth inning and yet to connect with a hit before the walk off blast that capped off a miraculous comeback. The National League had fell in a 4-0 hole in the first which was highlighted by a three run home run by the Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. The A.L. squad tacked on another in the sixth, and the work would be cut out for the National Leaguers.

     The tide turned in the seventh. Giants legend Willie Mays made an unbelievable grab in the top of the inning that robbed Ted Williams of a homer, then in the bottom of the inning he led things off with a single. May stood at first, and watched the next two men be retired in quick succession before Hank Aaron of the hometown Braves drew a two out walk. Aaron's teammate Johnny Logan came to the dish and rapped a single that brought Mays into score from second. One batter later Phillies catcher Stan Lopata was called off the bench to hit for Smoky Burgess who called Cincinnati home. Lopata hit a hot shot right at White Sox shortstop Chico Carrasquel who bobbled the ball, which led to Aaron crossing the plate, while Lopata stood at first. The long inning ended when pinch hitter Gene Baker of the Cubs was retired on a routine popup to center. The 5-0 advantage had been cut to 5-2, as the National League squad showed they would not go quietly.

     The wave of momentum carried over to the eighth, although, it looked like the A.L. was going to bring it to a stop pretty quick, as Red Schoendienst and Stan Musial grounded out in succession. Then came Willie Mays. The Giants slugger had sparked the first rally, and he would do it again with a single to right, that was followed by another single to right off the bat of Cincinnati's Ted Kluszewski that led to Mays taking third base, before Cubs third baseman picked up the third single in a row to bring Mays into score. 5-3. Just like the inning that came before it, an error would haunt the A.L. squad. Hank Aaron came to the dish with a chance to do some damage, and just like the three men that came before him he singled into right. The A.L.'s rightfielder Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers tried to fire the ball to third, where it could not be handled by Cleveland's Al Smith. The error was a fatal one as two runs scored in the process, and just like that it was a whole new ballgame with the score knotted at 5.

     From there it became a pitching duel, as Frank Sullivan of the Red Sox matched Cincy's Joe Nuxhall pitch for pitch. Nuxhall struck out five and Sullivan struck out four, as they dueled into the 12th. Musial was the first man up in that 12th inning and he would be the only man that would make a plate appearance for the National League in the frame. As he walked toward the batters box, his teammate Harry Walker shouted "Let's end this now, Stan. I'm hungry." Musial stepped to the plate, where Yogi Berra of the Yankees was crouched in the catcher position. Berra said something to the effect of my feet are killing me, and Stan told him to relax he would have him home in a minute. Musial was not kidding, as he took the first pitch from Sullivan and crushed it into the right field bleachers. As Al Kaline watched it sail over his head, Musial began a home run trot with a great celebration on tap, as he was greeted at home plate by a mob of victorious teammates.

     The big blast was a record breaker, as Stan came into the game tied with Ted Williams and Ralph Kiner with three home runs in the Mid Summer Classic. Musial appeared in 24 All Star games, a record that has only been matched by Willie Mays. He belted two more long balls in the All Star game, with the fifth coming in  1956, then the final one coming in 1960. The six All Star game home runs is a still standing record for the man who wore that same number on his back. In 2011 the game winner in 1955 was voted as the top moment in All Star history. Watch it here:

Check out the box score here:

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