Del Crandall said being chosen for the Major League All-Star game never grew old, although it became an old habit for him.
One of the game's best defensive catchers, he represented the Milwaukee Braves 11 times in the Midsummer Classic, starting all eight contests in which he played, including twice each in 1959 and 1962.
Although the former player, manager and broadcaster said from his California home that the games and highlights run together, he was involved in two of the most exciting All-Star matchups in history—and both took place at County Stadium.
The first came in 1955, arguably one of the most memorable meetings in a history that goes back to 1933.
The American League jumped on N.L. starter Robin Roberts for four runs in the first inning, including Mickey Mantle's three-run homer to cap the uprising. However, lead-off hitter Harvey Kuenn, another former Brewers' skipper, ignited it with a single and scored on a play that Crandall remembered.
"I recall that one of Robin's pitches got by me and they scored a run on the play," Crandall said of the wild pitch. "It crossed me up. I had called for a changeup, and later he says, ‘I don't throw a changeup.' "
All ended well, however, as Stan Musial belted Boston hurler Frank Sullivan's first offering in the bottom of the 12th inning for a homer, handing the Senior Circuit a 6-5 victory.
"The other thing I remember about that game is that (teammate) Gene Conley was the winning pitcher," the 78-year-old Crandall said.
Conley pitched the final inning, striking out future Hall of Famer Al Kaline, Mickey Vernon and Al Rosen in succession. Ironically, Conley had allowed a walk and three hits, including a homer, in just one-third of an inning to lose the 1954 contest.
Crandall flew out in his only plate appearance in '55, but the Braves had a major say in the outcome as Hank Aaron went 2 for 2 with a run scored and an RBI and Johnny Logan finished 1 for 3 with an RBI.
The next time the All-Star extravaganza converged on Milwaukee was in 1975. Logan was probably in attendance, Aaron made his final Midsummer Classic appearance and Crandall was a coach for the A.L. squad and in the middle of his final season as Brewers manager.
Another exciting finish occurred as Pittsburgh's Bill Madlock keyed a three-run, ninth-inning rally with a two-run single against Goose Gossage as the N.L. claimed a 6-3 victory.
"It was my last year managing the Brewers, and it was well-received just like all of the regular-season games when I played there," Crandall said. "They always supported us and packed the ball park."
First baseman George "Boomer" Scott struck out both times and Aaron lined out to shortstop in a pinch-hitting role.
Crandall recalled something that nobody else probably was privy to, and it happened before the first pitch.
"I was just standing there. The National League was winding up batting practice, and (Cincinnati's) Johnny Bench says, ‘Let's get outta here so the minor leaguers can hit.' I don't think he meant it to be mean-spirited, but that was just the National League's attitude in those days."
Bench and crew had a right to brag as the N.L. was in the middle of a 20-1 run from 1963-82.
As for Crandall, he finished 4 for 20 in All-Star competition, clubbing a solo homer with one out in the second inning of the first game in 1960, a 5-3 N.L. triumph that was played at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.
"I don't even remember who it was against, just that it was a right-hander," Crandall said of Boston's Bill Monbouquette. "What I do remember about that game is that it was oppressively hot. I never reacted to the heat, even being a catcher, but there was something about that day."
Still, Crandall recalled those memories fondly, win or lose.
"Being involved in the All-Star game and World Series was a great thing," he said. "You always had a chance to do something significant in those games, although nothing like that really happened with me. But there was no question that it was an honor because you played with the best players in your league and against the best in the other league. My family got to attend a couple of All-Star games, so that was special."