Sparky Anderson made me one of his coaches for the 1977 All-Star Game. It my first year as Manager of the Dodgers and we were battling the Reds all year, so for him to make me one of his coaches was a real honor.
Before the game, Sparky, Danny Ozark, and I were standing on the steps of the dugout at Yankee Stadium. We were all looking around in disbelief.
We said to each other, “Can you believe this?”
The three of us were big league managers, and in Yankee Stadium for the All-Star Game, while what felt like not too many years prior we were all sleeping in the barracks of Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida as minor league players for the Dodgers.
This year’s All-Star Game was just as emotional. The pregame ceremony was one of the greatest collections of Hall of Famers outside of Cooperstown. They lined us up at their position, so players like Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt stood at third base, and players like Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays stood in the outfield. As the AL and NL starters were announced they would run to their respective positions and flank the Hall of Famers.
I stood behind the plate with Earl Weaver and waited for Clint Hurdle and Terry Francona.
The game went into extra innings, and I was happy to see the way Clint and Terry held players back just for that situation.
I managed in four All-Star Games and each time I would tell my players that I might not use everybody, but that they are still All-Stars even if they don’t get in the game. I wasn’t going to get caught without enough players to win the game.
Even though the National League lost, and the Dodgers won’t have home-field advantage in the World Series, it was still a great game, and I was so impressed with Russell Martin.
Remember this Dodger fans; in the five World Series that we have won in Los Angeles, we didn’t have home-field advantage for any of them.
I would like to congratulate the Commissioner for putting on one a tremendous Mid Summer Classic. He and his staff did an outstanding job, and the fans had a great time, as did the Hall of Famers.