ALL-STAR GAME : Notebook : Sutcliffe Makes It--So Does His Uniform
No one could blame Chicago Cub pitcher Rick Sutcliffe if it felt anticlimactic when he entered Tuesday’s All-Star game in the third inning. This last-minute selection had performed an all-star feat just getting here.
Sutcliffe, a replacement for injured Houston pitcher Mike Scott, was not informed of his selection until late Monday night. He learned about it while at a golf course in Kansas City, Mo., where he had completed 30 holes before quitting because of darkness.
“I had just gotten off a golf course, I was looking for an eraser to do a little work on my scorecard,” he said. “I would have been called sooner, but nobody knew where I was. I was playing at a new course, maybe because I didn’t want anybody to know where I was.”
After Sutcliffe’s agent Barry Axelrod finally found him, his trouble was merely beginning. Sutcliffe left Tuesday morning but didn’t arrive at the team’s hotel until 1:15 p.m, only 30 minutes before he was supposed to leave for the game.
“I wasn’t exactly planning on flying today (Tuesday), I was hoping to go back to the course and get my score under triple-digits,” he said.
Then there was the matter of his uniform. It was in Chicago, and the overnight mail companies were closed by the time Cubs’ officials learned of Sutcliffe’s selection. So Ned Colletti, the Cubs’ media relations director known for his resourcefulness, enlisted his wife Gayle to carry the uniform with her on her previously scheduled Tuesday flight to Orange County.
No problem, except when Gayle arrived at the airport gate, flight attendants wouldn’t let her carry on the Cubs’ duffel bag. It was too big. Yet with the plane nearing departure, she was afraid to give it up, lest it be put on a later flight.
“My wife told them the only way she would let them check it underneath the plane is if she could see them put it underneath the plane,” Colletti said. “So she went out and watched.”
The uniform finally arrived at Anaheim Stadium at 3:05, 20 minutes before Sutcliffe was scheduled to take the team picture.
“I’ve always heard of guys who have had to wear makeshift uniforms in these things, and I thought I was going to be one of those guys,” said Sutcliffe, who always looks a bit unkempt anyway with his shaggy beard. “I guess it’s lucky I’m not one of those guys who looks tailored.”
But even after he and his uniform were in Anaheim, together, everything wasn’t fine.
There was still a problem at his home in Kansas City. He had planned a big All-Star party for Tuesday night, invited about 30 guests, and suddenly he couldn’t be there.
“Unfortunately, it’s not going to matter,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “It turns out everybody is still going to come. They’re going to party without me. I’ll probably just get stuck with the bill.”
So what happened when Sutcliffe finally got in the game? He gave up four singles and two runs to his first six batters, and left after one inning and 21 pitches.
“I’m just happy to be here,” said Sutcliffe, and you could believe it.
In addition to one error on the field, there was a glaring one in the public-address announcer’s booth. Upon entering the game in the sixth inning, San Diego pitcher Mark Davis was announced as a San Francisco pitcher, which he was, before being traded to the Padres in July, 1987.
“I just looked up to the booth and said, ‘C’mon,’ ” said Davis, who threw a scoreless inning with strikeouts of Kansas City’s Bo Jackson and Minnesota’s Gary Gaetti. “Then I thought, wait a minute, maybe I got traded back.”
After the inning, Davis said he sought out National League first base coach Jack McKeon, who happens to be his Padre manager.
“I said, ‘Jack, you didn’t do anything I didn’t know about, did you?’ ” Davis said. “He told me no. I tell you, I would rather have my name messed up than my team messed up.”
The National League’s top power hitters--San Francisco’s Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell--had vastly different reasons for going a combined two for six with no extra-base hits and three strikeouts.
“Because of the time of day I couldn’t see the ball,” said Mitchell, who had a check-swing, run-scoring blooper in the first and grounder past shortstop for a single to left in the eighth. In between, he was struck out twice, by Texas’ Nolan Ryan and Cleveland’s Greg Swindell.
“The reason I had a check swing on that first hit was, I never saw the ball,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t know I hit it. Then when Nolan Ryan got in there . . . I never saw some of the stuff he was throwing. On one of his curveballs, I thought it was going to hit me.”
Clark, who grounded out in the first inning and was also struck out by Ryan, didn’t quite see it that way.
“I would never, ever blame my failure on twilight pitching,” he said. “I just didn’t get the job done. I was having enough problems hitting the ball coming in here, I’m still having problems.”
If nothing else, the All-Star game helped heal Willie Randolph. The Dodger second baseman, who gave the team a scare Saturday in Chicago when he twisted his neck on a play at home plate, said the neck loosened up Tuesday and he will be ready to start Thursday at Dodger Stadium against St. Louis.
“I did not feel a thing,” said Randolph, who replaced Chicago’s Ryne Sandberg at second base in the seventh inning and was hitless in one at-bat against Cleveland’s Doug Jones. Randolph forced Pittsburgh’s Bobby Bonilla at second base on a grounder in the ninth.
“You get out there in these games and you never feel anything. I felt great and I’m ready to go.”
Of the other Dodgers who played, Jay Howell pitched a scoreless seventh inning and catcher Mike Scioscia went hitless in one at-bat during three middle innings of work.
There were no postgame temper tantrums from Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser, who spent the evening on the National League bench rather than on the mound. Turns out he discussed the situation with NL and Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda beforehand when it was decided Hershiser would be used if the game went into extra innings.
“I told Tom I didn’t have to pitch,” Hershiser said. “He said that was good to hear because he could use me as a swing guy. I volunteered.”
Hershiser wasn’t alone. Cincinnati Reds John Franco and Barry Larkin also didn’t play.
Before he was to throw out Tuesday’s ceremonial first pitch, Angel coach Jimmie Reese had one question:
Was his 83-year-old arm up to the task?
“I just hope I can get it to the kid,” joked Reese, whose catcher for this pitch was a 9-year-old Little Leaguer from San Clemente, Connie Johnson. “After you’ve hit over two-million fungoes, your arm tends to go dead.”
Maybe Reese could just fungo the ball over the plate instead.
“That has been suggested,” Reese said. “But I don’t want to take a chance at hurting the girl. Maybe we can shorten up the (throwing) distance.”
And so they did. Reese made his throw on the grass in front of the mound. And the pitch went off without a hitch, Jimmie to Connie, on the fly.
Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds was stationed in center when Bo Jackson’s mammoth home run sailed over him in the first inning. While duly impressed, Davis did get a tiny bit annoyed with all the fuss.
"(Wade) Boggs hit a home run, too--it only counts for one,” he said.
Angel left-hander Chuck Finley was ready to go, but his call never came.
“I would have liked to pitch, but it wasn’t up to me,” Finley said. “I was a little nervous, but I felt good and I was ready to go in.”
Finley admitted he was disappointed, but . . .
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “Just the experience of being with this caliber of players and finding out what they’re like off the field, it was really fun.”
Don Plesac, the Milwaukee left-hander, had a short All-Star experience.
He came in to face Philadelphia’s Von Hayes in the eighth inning and made one pitch--which Hayes slapped into left field for a single--before giving way to Doug Jones.
“I felt really great when I warmed up,” Plesac said. “I threw him a low fastball and I guess he was looking for a fastball. I wish I could give you a 10-minute story about this, but it lasted about five seconds.
“When we get the VCR out for the grandkids someday, I think we’ll skip over this one. I’ll say they went away to commercial and my stint was over.”
Tuesday’s crowd of 64,036 was the fourth largest in All-Star game history--and the largest outside of Cleveland. Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (seating capacity: 74,483) housed the three largest All-Star crowds, including the record, 72,086, set in 1981.
By working scoreless second and third innings for the American League, Nolan Ryan became the second oldest pitcher to appear in an All-Star game at 42 years, 5 months. Satchel Paige was the oldest, pitching in the 1953 game at 47 years, 7 days.
Jose Canseco, voted by the fans as the starter in right field for the American League but ruled ineligible because he was not on Oakland’s active roster because of a wrist injury, was not at the game.
Canseco planned to attend and flew to Los Angeles International Airport Monday, but, according to his agent, Dennis Gilbert, turned around and returned to Oakland.
A’s Manager Tony La Russa sent a trainer to the airport to suggest to Canseco that he return to Oakland to work out and possibly be ready to play when the season resumes Thursday, Gilbert said.
Meanwhile, Mike Schmidt, who was voted to the National League team but chose not to play because he retired May 29, was dressed and in the NL dugout.
Although he has won four consecutive batting titles, Wade Boggs, who hit a first-inning home run Tuesday, was one of the least likely American Leaguers to do so.
In 312 at-bats, the Boston Red Sox third baseman had hit only two home runs. Except for the 1987 season when he had 24, he has never reached double figures in home runs in a season.
The one thing Bo Jackson didn’t do was steal home. Many fans wondered if he would try it in the fourth inning when he reached third base.
There has been only one steal of home in All-Star history. It occurred in 1934 when Pie Traynor of the Pittsburgh Pirates, not noted for speed, did it on the front end of a double steal.
Times staff writers Mike Penner, Larry Stewart, John Weyler, Gene Wojciechowski and Dan Hafner contributed to this story.