These Cubs are playing like it's 1969, and that might not be a dire predicament if they can finish the way they started.
Ron Santo vividly recalls this city's exuberance when five Cubs headed to the All-Star Game at RFK Stadium in Washington on July 23, 1969."We had the whole infield go," Santo recalled. "It was Ernie Banks at first, Glenn Beckert at second, Don Kessinger at short and me at third. Randy Hundley was the backup catcher. It was exciting to have that many."
Willie McCovey of the Giants hit two home runs to lead the NL to a 9-3 victory and earn the game's MVP award.
Santo, the Cubs' radio analyst, was chosen for nine All-Star Games and played in eight of them. He hopes this year's Cubs contingent enjoys the experience as much as he did.
"I guess the one that really sticks out is my first one, when I was 23 years old ... in Cleveland," Santo said.
Flamethrower "Sudden Sam" McDowell of the Indians was the American League's starting pitcher.
"Can you imagine that?" Santo said. "I knew how hard Sam McDowell could throw. I had faced him in spring training. And he was wild. The guy could throw 98 m.p.h., and he had a big curveball. It was either the first time up or the second time, but I got a base hit up the middle off him.
"When I first got to that All-Star Game, I didn't feel like I belonged. All the legends of baseball were there -- Willie Mays, Henry Aaron. When I got that base hit, it was like, 'OK, I belong.' The burden of the world went off my shoulders."
Santo was 5-for-15 (.333) in his eight All-Star Games. He has a theory on the only time he didn't play.
"I feel very strongly that Walter Alston didn't care for me," Santo said of the former Dodgers manager who didn't use him in the 1964 game.
Santo traced Alston's enmity to a game earlier that season when he argued a safe call on a rundown play so strenuously that the call was overturned by an umpire with a better view of the play.
"Walter wanted me out of that ballgame," Santo said with a laugh.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times