Monday, July 13, 2015

1981 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Warren Spahn & Bob Feller

The All Star break in upon us once again. So here a few additions to my All Star Game Honorary Captain collection.

Warren Spahn represented the National League as Honorary Captain in the 1981 All Star Game.  Spahn's heroics on the field earned him 17 All Star appearances and 13 20-win seasons, He led the league in ERA 3 times, strikeouts 4 times, shutouts 4 times, victories 8 times and complete games 7 times. He earned The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award 4 times, The Cy Young award in 1957 and The Lou Gehrig Award in 1961. In 1973 he was voted into the Hall of Fame.

The hometown hero, Bob Feller represented the American League as honorary captain at the 1981 All Star game in Cleveland. Feller was a triple crown winner in 1940, leading the league with a 2.61 ERA, 27 wins and 261 strike outs. He was an 8 time All Star and led the league in victories 6 times and in strikeouts 7 times. He had 3 career No-Nos and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.

It is worth noting that both of these pitchers left the comfort of the MLB to join the armed forces in their prime. Feller was the reigning pitching champion, having led the league in victories 3 consecutive years leading up to his 3+ years serving as an anti-aircraft gunner chief aboard the USS Alabama. In his first full season back he led the league again and was selected to the AL All Stars.

Although Spahn was a rookie before serving, in his first full season back he led the league in ERA and was selected to the NL All Star Team. Spahn's military career held nearly as many awards as his baseball career. He was a combat engineer who fought in the "Battle of the Bulge". He received a Purple Heart after taking shrapnel to his foot. His unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Emblem and he received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant.

As for the game itself, this would be the 4th and final time the game would be held at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. The game was rescheduled to August 9th because of the baseball strike. It still holds the attendance record for All Star games with 72,086 and the most players used with 56. The NL won 5-4 with all of its runs scored via the long ball. Gary Carter had 2 solo homers and was named MVP. Dave Parker also soloed and Mike Schmidt had a 2 run homer to give the NL the victory.

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