Stan Musial

How Stan Musial won the 1955 All-Star Game

Did Stan Musial call his shot in the 1955 All-Star Game? Hank Aaron certainly thought so.

On July 12, 1955, almost exactly five years after his longtime teammate, Red Schoendienst, hit the game-winning home run in the 1950 All-Star Game, Musial smacked the first pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning over the right-field wall to give the National League a 6-5 victory in a game it had trailed by five runs.

Prior to the contest at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, a moment of silence was held in memory of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward, who had founded the All-Star Game in 1933. Ward’s funeral services had been held earlier that day.

At age 34, Musial was making his 12th All-Star Game appearance, giving him more than any other player in history even though he would be selected for 12 more before his career ended. During the first half of the season, Musial once again had been excellent, batting .298/.387/.545 with 14 doubles, 19 homers, and 65 RBIs.

Despite Musial’s impressive numbers, Cincinnati’s Ted Kluszewski started the game at first base. Kluszewski, who finished second in the 1954 National League MVP voting, had entered the All-Star break batting .317/.390/.641 with 13 doubles, 29 homers, and 65 RBIs.

With Musial on the bench, the American League jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead off Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts. Tigers shortstop Harvey Kuenn led off the game with a single and scored on a wild pitch before the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle launched a three-run homer. Before Roberts could record an out, the American League was already ahead by four runs.

After Nationals first baseman Mickey Vernon drove in a run in the sixth to give the American League a 5-0 lead, the National League finally answered. Johnny Logan of the hometown Braves ended the shutout with an RBI single to right field and another Braves star, Henry Aaron, scored on a throwing error to cut the lead to 5-2.

In the eighth, Cubs third baseman Randy Jackson singled to right to score Willie Mays and Aaron added a two-run single off Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan that tied the game. The score would remain 5-5 until the bottom of the 12th, thanks in no small part to a defensive gem from Schoendienst, who started the game at second base.

Schoendienst grabbed Yogi Berra’s lazy, slow-rolling ground ball behind the second base bag and threw the Yankees catcher out in a play that was so close that Berra and coach Don Gutteridge fiercely argued with first base umpire Dusty Boggess.

Despite their protests, Musial, who had entered as a pinch hitter for Del Ennis in the fourth inning and then remained in the game as the left fielder, led off the bottom of the inning. As George Vecsey noted, “With the players due back in uniform two days later, nobody wanted to miss the last flight or train out of town that evening.”[1]

As the inning began, Aaron later recalled Musial approaching the bat rack and saying, “They don’t pay us to play overtime.”

“And he went up and hit a home run,” Aaron said. “I heard that myself. I know a lot say Babe Ruth pointed. I know Stan called his.”[2]

Berra – a St. Louis native and friend of Musial’s – had been catching the entire game for the American League and the two had conversed each time Musial had come to the plate.

After the game, Musial told the reporters that as he came to the plate for his last at-bat, he said, “You know, Yogi, I’m getting pretty tired.”

“So am I,” Berra answered.[3]

In Berra’s book, You Can Observe a Lot by Watching: What I’ve Learned about Teamwork from the Yankees and Life, he recalled the scene this way:

It was the twelfth inning and getting dark. We’d been out there almost three and a half hours, and Stash is the oldest player in the game and tells me he’s getting weary. I tell him my feet are tired too. And ain’t it a shame nobody can see the ball through the shadows? Stash tells me to relax, says we’re all going home soon. And he smashed the first pitch for a home run.[4]

However, in Vecsey’s Musial biography, he shares that he asked Berra about the story, and at that time Berra denied that Musial called his shot.[5]

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bob Broeg offered a slight variation, writing that when Musial arrived at home plate, Berra was grumbling and the Cardinals’ star asked Berra what was wrong.

“It’s these extra innings, tough on a guy catching every day,” the Yankees catcher replied.

“And it’s getting tough to see back here too,” added American League umpire Bill Summers.

“Yeah, Musial replied, “I’m getting tired too.”[6]

Broeg’s version doesn’t include mention of Musial calling his shot.

Immediately after the game, Musial told reporters that while he had been swinging for the long ball in his two previous at-bats, he was just trying to get on base to lead off the 12th inning.

“Before that, I was really swinging for the fences,” he said. “I didn’t take a vicious cut at Sullivan’s pitch in the 12th. It was a fastball, letter high, but when I connected, I knew it was over the fence.”[7]

Sullivan, who gave up the home run, had his own amusing recollections. As he later described the scene, Berra had been pleading with Musial to end the game, and said, “For crying out loud, Stan, do something. This game has gone on far too long.”[8]

Sullivan concludes the story by sharing that Berra came to his locker after the game and said, “I should have told you he was a high fastball hitter.”[9]

Given how competitive the All-Star games were at the time, however, this is likely more a reflection of Sullivan’s exceptional storytelling skills than an accurate reflection of the moment.

Regardless of whether Musial predicted his game-winning home run or not, it did represent the fourth All-Star Game blast of his career, breaking a tie with Ralph Kiner and Ted Williams for the most in Midsummer Classic history. It also marked his 14th hit in an All-Star Game, setting another record.

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[1] George Vecsey (2012), Stan Musial, ESPN, Location 3407 (Kindle Edition).

[2] George Vecsey (2012), Stan Musial, ESPN, Location 3407 (Kindle Edition).

[3] “Musial’s Booming Home Run in 12th Gives N.L. 6-to-5 All-Star Victory – Yogi Baits the Man, Stan Has Last Laugh,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1955.

[4] Yogi Berra with Dave Kaplan (2008), You Can Observe a Lot by Watching: What I’ve Learned about Teamwork from the Yankees and Life, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Page 162.

[5] George Vecsey (2012), Stan Musial, ESPN, Location 3416 (Kindle Edition).

[6] Bob Broeg, “Tired Musial, Ear Bent By Weary Berra, Puts All-Star Game to Bed,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1955.

[7] Associated Press, “Stan Knew It Was Over, Wasn’t Swinging Hard,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1955.

[8] George Vecsey (2012), Stan Musial, ESPN, Location 3423 (Kindle Edition).

[9] George Vecsey (2012), Stan Musial, ESPN, Location 3427 (Kindle Edition).