It was 36 years ago this week, that former President Gerald Ford threw out the first pitch, legendary announcers Vin Scully and Brent Musburger shared the radio broadcast booth, a future Padres’ playoff hero would win the game MVP for the hated rival Los Angeles Dodgers, and 51,549 fans in attendance visited beautiful San Diego, California for the 49th annual Midsummer Classic. It was the 1978 All-Star Game!
The Padres, playing host for the annual treat, had two future Hall of Famers of their own on the roster in reliever Rollie Fingers and outfielder Dave Winfield. Several future notable Padres also made appearances in the game, including the aforementioned game MVP in Steve Garvey, future closer Rich Gossage, future third baseman Graig Nettles, and former Friars’ skipper Don Zimmer were all a part of the exhibition festivities.
It appeared early on in the game, that the American League would pull a rarity–win an All-Star Game by jumping out to an early lead thanks to the offensive firepower of future HOFers Rod Carew, George Brett, and Carlton Fisk. The AL scored on starter Vida Blue, who tossed 3 innings, allowing 3 earned runs, on 5 hits, while walking 1 and striking out a pair. The AL was up early 3-0, but as usual for the era, the National League mounted a comeback, prompted by a chunk of the “Big Red Machine” in Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and George Foster.
The Senior Circuit tied the game up in the bottom half of the third inning, thanks in part to a 2-run single by MVP Garvey, that followed an RBI-walk from Greg Luzinski, tying the game at 3 all. The score remained the same until two future teammates determined the outcome of the contest. Gossage entered in the 8th inning for the American League, and immediately gave up a triple to Garvey. A wild pitch from the Goose allowed Garvey to score, and that opened the floodgates for the NL. By the time the dust had settled, the National Leaguers took home the victory with a 7-3 win. Gossage took the loss for the AL, while future Hall of Fame member Bruce Sutter notched the victory.
Of note from the game, Rod Carew of the Minnesota Twins hit a pair of triples, and along with Garvey’s three-bagger, became the first time in All-Star Game history that three triples had been hit in the game. Padres’ participants Dave Winfield and Rollie Fingers had impressive showings. Winfield finished 1-for-2, with a run scored, while Fingers tossed two scoreless frames, allowing only one base knock and striking out one. This would be the last time that San Diego would host the game until the 1992 season.