Rockin’ reunion of 1985 All-Star Game
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Paul Molitor still keeps the photo in a prominent place in his home office in Edina, Minn. It’s nearly three decades old, but the significance will never fade.
Down on the field at the Metrodome, then just four seasons into its existence, Molitor is standing with longtime friends Jack Morris and Dave Winfield.
All three are wearing American League all-star uniforms. What were the odds?
Three kids from St. Paul hadn’t just reached the major leagues. In mid-July 1985, they found themselves in the same clubhouse for the first time as the All-Star Game returned to the Twin Cities for the first time in 20 years.
“To share that with those guys was definitely (special),” said Molitor, back on the Twins’ big-league staff this season as an infield coach. “You think of three kids from St. Paul that grew up not too far apart from each other and coming together like that, that’s a baseball rarity.”
Morris and Molitor later would spend the 1993 season as teammates in Toronto, helping the Blue Jays claim a second consecutive World Series championship.
“All together, all three of us,” Morris said, shaking his head. “It was kind of neat.”
Molitor replaced Winfield as the Blue Jays’ designated hitter that year, then later missed him by two years with the Twins, long after Molitor had followed Winfield at the University of Minnesota.
“Dave was a guy who helped fuel my passion to become a major league player, following in his footsteps on the playgrounds of St. Paul,” Molitor said.
Winfield and Morris, meanwhile, missed each other by a year in Cleveland in 1994-95.
However, for those two days in 1985, July 15 and 16, the trio was together.
“It was good,” said Molitor, then with the Milwaukee Brewers. “The Metrodome was rockin’.”
Morris’ only loss
An announced crowd of 54,960 watched the National League claim a 6-1 victory in a game that was mostly uneventful.
Morris, coming off a World Series championship turn with the Detroit Tigers, was named to start the game for the second of three times in his career. He also got the nod in 1981 and 1991.
That 1985 game would be the only time Morris took the loss in his five all-star games.
“I know I lost the game,” said Morris, back with the Twins as a special assistant and part of their broadcast team. “That’s all I remember.”
The whole experience had to be a blur for Morris as he returned home for his third All-Star Game in five years. He appreciated Tigers manager Sparky Anderson giving him the ball.
“It was nice to be honored to start the game,” Morris said. “I don’t remember much about the game at all, just all the stuff going on around it and coming home. Twins fans still hadn’t embraced me too much yet because I was the enemy with Detroit.”
Was he booed at the introductions?
“I don’t even remember,” Morris said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff anyway.”
Morris was one of five Tigers on the AL team, joined by teammates Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Dan Petry and Willie Hernandez. Catcher Lance Parrish also made it but was replaced because of an injury.
“We had a lot of Tigers there because Sparky brought all the boys,” Morris said. “We all deserved to go. It wasn’t like he was doing us any favors. It was fun.”
Morris was handed a quick 1-0 lead on a Rickey Rally: Rickey Henderson rapped a leadoff single off eventual game most valuable player LaMarr Hoyt, stole second, took third on Terry Kennedy’s throwing error and scored on George Brett’s sacrifice fly.
That would be it for the AL offense, however.
Morris gave up single runs in the second and third innings on RBI singles by Kennedy and Steve Garvey. A two-out walk to Darryl Strawberry brought Anderson out of the AL dugout to get the ball.
“I probably deserved it,” Morris said with a laugh. “He was thinking about the Tigers, too. He wanted us to get back to work.”
Bert Blyleven, Morris’ fellow Twins broadcaster and legendary right-hander, worked the fourth and fifth innings for the AL that night.
Making his second and final all-star appearance, Blyleven gave up a two-run single to Ozzie Virgil and later hit Strawberry with a pitch.
Two weeks later, the Twins sent four players to Cleveland to reacquire Blyleven, a key moment in the run-up to their 1987 World Series title.
Molitor, making the second of seven all-star appearances in his career, entered the game at third base in the top of the seventh and later moved to center field.
He had just one at-bat, striking out against Fernando Valenzuela to end the seventh.
As Molitor entered the game, Winfield was leaving, pulled after six innings and one sharp single up the middle in three at-bats.
For Winfield, in the midst of 12 straight all-star appearances (1977-88), the chance to start in right field in the Twin Cities’ first All-Star Game in two decades was just as special as it was for the others in the St. Paul trio.
“That was a thrill to play that All-Star Game in Minnesota,” said Winfield, now a special assistant with the Major League Baseball Players Association. “I was able to come home, celebrate the All-Star Game and play well. I took care of a few family and friends.”
He also took care of Nolan Ryan, an old nemesis from their one season as opponents in the National League. That was 1980, when Winfield was closing out a long run with the San Diego Padres and Ryan was in his first year with the Houston Astros.
“Nolan Ryan and I had a run-in because he’d knocked me down a few times,” said Winfield, then with the New York Yankees. “We had a meeting on the mound, and we hadn’t seen each other in years.”
Ryan entered the game in the fourth inning and ripped through three future hall of famers — Brett, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken — before facing Winfield to lead off the fifth.
“Of course, I got the brushback in the All-Star Game,” Winfield says with a laugh. “People still did that stuff.”
Winfield got his revenge moments later when he sent a line-drive single back through the box.
“Honestly, we’re friends now. We’re in the Hall of Fame,” Winfield said. “But I tried to hit the ball so hard. I tried to hit a line drive off his leg. I hit it up the middle, but I just missed him.”
For good measure, Winfield immediately stole second to get into scoring position for Jim Rice, another of the 10 hall of famers on the AL roster that year. (Ryan was one of five on the NL side.)
There would be one more Ryan-Winfield showdown that night, but Ryan retired Winfield on a grounder to second with two runners on to end the sixth. Winfield represented the potential tying run.
Years later, Ryan and Winfield found themselves on the same packed elevator as they left a joint appearance somewhere. Don Baylor, Winfield’s former teammate with the Yankees, couldn’t resist speaking up.
“Everybody was on the elevator, and my friend Don Baylor said, ‘Hey, Winny, you know Nolan?’” Winfield said. “I just said, ‘Oh, yeah. I remember him.’”
That line drive up the middle at the Metrodome is something neither man will forget.
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