This Day in Baseball History: July 24th, 1973

I like it. Simple.

On July 23, 1973:

Willie Mays makes his last All-Star appearance.

Willie Mays needs no introduction. He was one of the best players of all-time, and in my opinion, he’s the most valuable player of all-time (we can argue about him and Ruth). In his 22 seasons, he won the Rookie of the Year Award (1951), 2 MVP Awards (1954, 1965), 12 Gold Gloves (1957-1968), and a record 20 All-Star Games (technically 24 when you count those end of the year All-Star Games). More than that, he made 20 consecutive All-Star Games from 1954 to 1973. It takes a lot of talent (obviously) and durability (obviously) to make those games. Seriously, he had to be one of the top 6 or 7 outfielders in the National League each season. Sure, after a few and once you become a superstar, you can get away with not being that good for half a season, but his lowest OPS+’s during that streak were 124 (not exactly bad in any way). And all of this forgets that he was drafted into the Army part of the way through 1952 and for all of 1953 for the Korean War.

But 1973 was a little different for Mays. After a rough 1972, the first half was of 1973 wasn’t any better. He was hitting .214/.292/.351 by the break, and in no way did he deserve an All-Star bid. But Bowie Kuhn expanded the rosters a bit, and Mays was brought to the team as a sentimental pick. For his career, Mays hit .307 with 2 doubles, 3 triples, and 3 home runs in those All-Star Games, but in this All-Star Game, Mays received one at-bat in the eighth and struck out.

Ron probably knows a little about this game. It was held at Royals Stadium (now known as Kaufmann Stadium). What’s interesting is that this was the first season for Royals Stadium, and it wasn’t even 4 months old at that point. Originally, it was going to be built for the Athletics, but after they moved, Kansas City demanded a new team as the stadium plans were already in place. Also interesting about this situation was that it was one of the first times that separate stadiums were built for the football and baseball teams. Conventional wisdom said it was inconceivable and economically irresponsible. That’s conventional wisdom for you.

Trivia Time
Who was hurt in the game?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Fernando Tatis

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4 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: July 24th, 1973”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    The stadium wasn't completed at the time. The fountains weren't installed yet (they were only in right-center for the first 20 years or so. It wasn't even a grass embankment at the time, just bare dirt while they were getting ready to dig.

    The scoreboard was the biggest thing seen to the point. The scoreboard in Wrigley is actually bigger, but this was electronic, with moving graphics. Plus, it was taller than anything else at the time.

    My father scored 3 tickets to the game. He went, and took my older brother. I wanted to go, but my mother decieded she wanted to go instead (because of the 'event' and not because she wanted to watch the game), so I had to sit and watch it on TV.

    I started watching games at the old Muncipal Stadium downtown, but Royals Stadium was a complete upgrade, as well as much more convienent for fans to get to.

    Still the best stadium in the land for watching baseball. There might be other stadiums that offer better distractions, but for watching a game, go to Kaufman. You won't be sorry.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    I want to go there. If I had a job this summer, I would have had the money to take a few trips to different places, but alas, the economy has also killed my plans. Maybe next summer.

  3. Ron Rollins Says:

    Let me know if you ever get that way. I'll give you some places to check out. You'll love it.

    Don't forget the Negro Leagues museum, and the Jazz museum, as well as lots of other attractions.

    You'll love the park, like the fans, and have a good time in the city.

  4. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Trust me, if I ever get to Kansas City, you'll be the first person I contact. I want some good barbecue, too!

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