The 83rd All-Star Game is at Kauffman Stadium on July 10. Leading up to that game, The Star is looking back at a Midsummer Classic game every day.July 13, 1971 American League 6, National League 4 Tiger Stadium in Detroit
The American League flexed its power and got its first victory in an All-Star Game since 1962.
Six Future Hall of Famers (Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Johnny Bench Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron) hit a home run in the game, and that’s how every run was scored.
Jackson’s blast is one of the iconic moments in All-Star Game history and it started the American League’s comeback. Homers by Bench (two-run shot in the second off Oakland’s Vida Blue) and Aaron (a solo shot in the third against Blue, who would win Cy Young and MVP awards that season) gave the NL a 3-0 lead.
But Jackson pinch-hit for Blue in the bottom of the third and crushed a Dock Ellis pitch off a power generator on the roof of Tigers Stadium. The homer was measured at 520 feet and scored Boston’s Luis Aparicio.
"It has to be very close to the hardest-hit ball I've ever seen," former Tigers’ star Al Kaline told the Detroit News in 2005. "It was still going up when it hit the light tower.
"And the ring off the bat was devastating. It was a noise you don't hear often -- almost like an aluminum bat. There was a sound when he hit it, even in a noisy ballpark, that was unbelievable."
One estimate said the homer would have gone 650 feet, but ESPN’s Home Run Tracker put it at 532 feet.
No matter the length, Jackson knew it was a crushed.
"I just wanted to get a base hit and prolong the rally,” Jackson told the Detroit News in that 2005 story. “Then Dock hung a mattress ball -- a slider -- and it was like hitting a golf shot on the sweet spot, like maybe the best shot of my life."
Later in the inning, the Orioles’ Robinson hit a two-run homer of his own (scoring the Twins’ Rod Carew) and it was 4-3 for the American League. In the eighth, the Twins’ Harmon Killebrew smashed a two-run homer that scored Kaline and the American League took a 6-3 lead.
Clemente’s solo blast in the eighth finished the scoring.
Royals second baseman Cookie Rojas and outfielder Amos Otis were on the American League team. Both were zero for one. Blue got the win, Ellis took the loss, and Robinson was the MVP. But it’s Jackson’s homer that is still talked about.
Take a look at it here: