When I was a young man, which I suppose could conceivably be thought to include the years between 1968-90, I generally took it as a matter of faith that the National League was superior to the American League. I guess I would trace this prejudice back to when I was a young boy, say 1960 or so, when I would watch the All-Star Game(s) with a rapture and enthusiasm that I’ve had difficulty replicating with the passage of time.
(Since there’s a rather pronounced fantasy element to the All-Star Game, illustrating it with a fantasy card “That Never Was” seem like a good idea. Famed graphic designer Keith Conforti took care of that nicely with the ersatz 1960 Topps All-Star card shown here.)
The reason I used the plural contrivance “All-Star Game(s)” is because my first recollection of watching the game on television was when they were playing two games every summer, first two days apart and then more than a week separating them.
I was already a National League fan, thanks to Henry Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves, but once I started genuflecting in front of the flickering black-and-white television images in mid-July, the allegiance expanded to encompass the entire league.
And so for the next 25 years, by which time I would be 35 years old and technically no longer a “young man,” I had to suffer through the indignity of watching my guys lose seven games. In 25 years! And despite the rarity, I still regarded it as an affront when those other guys won.
Actually, one of those seven I didn’t get to watch, since I was on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Viet Nam in 1971. Ironically, Aaron hit a home run in that one and so I didn’t get to see it, either.
But other than that it’s probably fair to say I got a little spoiled over that span. I used to have a standing $50 bet with a guy I knew from my college days, a tavern owner, and as I recall I collected on that nine years in a row until I moved from New York State to Delaware in 1983. We suspended the bet, and the American League promptly won.
And now a couple of the younger fellas here at the office reminded me today that the National League hasn’t won an All-Star Game in the last 12 tries. That peculiar language is employed because my guys haven’t lost 12 in a row; the 2002 version ended in a tie.
That was also the last one I’ve been at. Probably just a coincidence.