There was more to the two-day All-Star extravaganza than the game action and the splendid staging by the White Sox. Before Tuesday afternoon's oldtimers' exhibition, which the National League won 6-5, there was the historic meeting of former Commissioner Happy Chandler, 85, and Leo Durocher, 77. Chandler had suspended The Lip as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1947 season for befriending alleged gamblers.
As Chandler was introduced to the crowd, he emerged from the American League dugout, shook the hands of former players from both leagues, who were seated on chairs along the first and third baselines, and sat down facing the National League dugout. But when Durocher was introduced next, Chandler immediately walked to the American League side to avoid the man he hadn't spoken to for more than 35 years. Their last meeting had come in 1948 when Dodger President Branch Rickey had them shake hands during spring training. At Comiskey Park, Durocher ended the long period of estrangement when he shook the hands of his National League teammates and then walked to the American League side and shook the hands of everyone there—including Chandler.
Quite a few of the 2,500 people who attended Tuesday night's bash thrown by the White Sox at the Navy Pier lost some sleep by lingering late. They also heard White Sox Board Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf go to the mike and ask, "How do you know when [Yankee owner] George Steinbrenner is lying?" Pause. "When you see his lips move."
At a luncheon the next day sponsored by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Chicago Mayor Harold Washington repeatedly called Kuhn "Barry" and another speaker referred to Detroit's Lou Whitaker as "Bob." That was the second identity problem in Chicago for Sweet Lou. When he tried to get in to see the oldtimers' contest, Whitaker was stopped by stadium guards who didn't believe he was a ballplayer and kept him out until a Sox official intervened.
At least Whitaker, who was hitting .310 at the All-Star break and who wound up fifth at his position in the voting, was selected to his league's team. Two years ago, Houston Infielder Art Howe wasn't on the All-Star squad despite leading the National League with a .344 average. This year, First Baseman Ray Knight of the Astros, whose .336 was second in the league, was "hurt and disappointed" because he wasn't chosen. George Hendrick of St. Louis, though, showed little enthusiasm about having been named, arriving just before the game and leaving before it ended.
An entirely different attitude was shown by Expo Catcher Gary Carter, who delayed having a cortisone shot in his ailing left elbow so he could play. By taking the shot after the game Carter had to miss the next three regular-season games while recuperating—a dangerously unconventional decision for a team in a tight pennant race. Montreal President John McHale said, "I think a player's first duty is to be at the All-Star Game. That game is bigger than a player or a team. It's for all of baseball."
None of the 88 oldtimers or 58 current stars in Chicago drew more crowd response than White Sox rookie Ron Kittle, who had turned on Chicagoans with his charisma—and 18 homers—by All-Star time. Kittle in turn was so excited about being on the American League team that he had other All-Stars sign the bat pictured with him. During pregame batting practice Kittle inspired his followers even more by smashing two balls onto the stadium roof. Chicago fans gave Kittle such a prolonged and boisterous ovation during the pregame introductions that he tipped his cap three times. And while he sat on the bench until the seventh inning, his rooters periodically chanted, "Kittle, Kittle, Kittle," to let it be known they wanted him in the game. The fans even called on Kittle to pinch-hit before Fred Lynn hit his record grand slam homer. On and on went the yells, notably crescendo when Kittle was inserted in leftfield in the top of the seventh, when he singled in the bottom of that inning, when he shifted to right in the eighth, and when he faced and was whiffed by Cub Reliever Lee Smith later that inning.
One former player who wasn't there in person but kept popping up in All-Star film footage and reminiscences was Truett (Rip) Sewell, whose eephus pitch was socked for a memorable homer by Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star Game. Although he didn't meet the qualifications to be invited to the oldtimers' affair last week, Sewell, 76, who has had both legs amputated because of a circulatory disorder, wasn't miffed. He put it this way: "Heck, if we'd a went and been put up in a hotel, by the time my wife wallowed around in the bathtub, put on bath powder, put on her 18-hour girdle, put on her five-day deodorant, sprayed five-hour hair spray on, put on eight-hour mascara, put on her odor-eater shoes and dressed, and by the time I washed, shaved, slicked down my hair, dressed, shined my shoes, put in my false teeth and screwed on my two legs, the game would a been over with."
Kansas City Manager Dick Howser had to talk G.M. John Schuerholz into signing Seattle castoff Gaylord Perry. Says Howser of the 44-year-old pitcher, "I think our younger pitchers can learn from him how to attack a hitter."... Among players with at least 100 at bats this season, these were some of the American League leaders through the All-Star break in hitting with men in scoring position: Cleveland's Pat Tabler (.477), Texas' Mickey Rivers (.472) and Baltimore's Dan Ford (.444).... Yankee First Baseman-Outfielder Ken Griffey, who was third in the American League with a .333 average, went on the disabled list after reinjuring his right hamstring.... "My confidence is completely shot," says Red Sox Third Baseman Wade Boggs, whose 17 errors only give a hint of his fielding troubles.... At week's end Boston pinch hitters led the AL with a .353 average. Others at better than .300 were California (.343), Texas (.320), Cleveland (.314) and Toronto (.304). Bringing up the rear were Detroit (.175) and Milwaukee (.171).... Ranger Catcher Jim Sundberg admits he's "confused" by fiery Manager Doug Rader, who has yelled at him several times. "I'm a sensitive person," Sundberg says. "I tend to melt a little bit."
Several weeks ago, White Sox Coach Charley Lau took himself off the active coaching roster in order to make room for Loren Babe, 55, a Sox advance scout who has inoperable cancer. Under a special provision in baseball's insurance coverage, Babe was then named to the team's coaching staff and became eligible for full medical benefits. After all, Lau, 50, would continue his duties as batting instructor and was in good health. Or so he thought. Last week Lau had surgery for cancer of the colon and is at home recuperating, though he visited Comiskey Park last Friday. Fortunately, his status with the club means his medical bills will all be covered by insurance.