The city of Philadelphia has played host to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game four times in the 83-year history of baseball’s midsummer classic.
In both 1943 and 1952 the game was held at Shibe Park, with the NL taking the first by a 5-3 score and the AL coming back with a 3-2 victory in the second game at the old ballpark at 22nd and Lehigh that would later be renamed as Connie Mack Stadium. The Phillies were listed as the official hosts of the 1952 game.
The last two times that the game was played here in 1976 and 1996, Veteran’s Stadium was the scene of the festivities. Citizens Bank Park has yet to do the honors, though reports are that the game will return to South Philly in 2026.
Let’s take a quick look back at that 1976 version of baseball’s Midsummer Classic which played out in front of 63,974 fans including the President of the United States at The Vet during the celebration of America’s Bicentennial in the summer of 1976.
It was a great time for both the city and for the team to be hosting the game. Of course, Philadelphia is one of the most important historic cities in the United States, and thus having one of the American pastime’s showcase events here as the nation was celebrating its 200th birthday was almost a no-brainer.
For the Phillies part, the team had begun emerging over the previous two seasons as legitimate contenders in the National League after nearly a decade of futility.
With the opening of Veteran’s Stadium in 1971, the trade for Steve Carlton in 1972, and an influx of homegrown talent the team was primed to make a run at the NL East Division crown that summer. In fact, they would capture that crown, and the next two in succession as well.
As a nod to this emerging talent base, the Phillies placed five players on that 1976 NL All-Star squad, with left fielder Greg Luzinski elected by the fans as the starter in left field.
Only the National League manager Sparky Anderson from Cincinnati’s ‘Big Red Machine’, the defending World Series champions who would go on to win another that October, had placed more players on the squad.
Appearing as reserves with the NL squad were former Phillies pitcher Woody Fryman, then of the Montreal Expos, former and future Phillies pitcher Dick Ruthven then of the Atlanta Braves, future Phillies first baseman Al Oliver, and outfielder Bake McBride, who would be traded to the Phillies the following June.
Rose, Ruthven, and McBride would all go on to become key contributors to the Phillies 1980 World Series championship squad. But that’s a story for another day.
Luzinski was slotted into the fifth spot in Anderson’s starting lineup. Rose led off, followed by first baseman Steve Garvey of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Morgan hit third and center fielder George Foster batted in the cleanup spot.
Behind Luzinski came the Reds catcher Johnny Bench, followed by Chicago Cubs right field masher Dave Kingman, shortstop Dave Concepcion of Cincinnati, and finally the starting pitcher, Randy Jones of the San Diego Padres.
The American League, managed by Darrell Johnson of the Boston Red Sox, featured starters from six different teams, three from the Detroit Tigers. One of his reserves players on the AL squad was former Phillies infielder Don Money.
Leading off for the American League was one of those Tigers, left fielder Ron LeFlore. Next came sweet-swinging Rod Carew of the Minnesota Twins was at first base. Kansas City Royals dynamic third baseman George Brett batted third.
Hitting in the cleanup spot was New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson. Boston’s Fred Lynn, who was the reigning AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, hit in the fifth position. He was followed by shortstop Toby Harrah of the Texas Rangers, right fielder Rusty Staub of the Tigers, and second baseman Bobby Grich of the Baltimore Orioles.
On the mound and batting 9th for the junior circuit was the most colorful player of the season, pitcher Mark Fydrich. Nicknamed ‘The Bird’, Fydrich was known for talking to the baseball, strolling around the mound, and other histrionics. The right-hander was in the midst of a season that would see him win the AL Rookie of the Year Award and finish second for the league’s Cy Young Award honors.
This was the first MLB All-Star Game at which “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Canadian national anthem of “Oh, Canada” were both played, and each has been played at every game since. The first pitch was thrown out by U.S. President Gerald Ford.
In the actual game, the National League bolted out to an early lead, scoring twice off Fydrich in the bottom of the 1st inning. Rose led off with a single and came around to score on a triple by Garvey, who then scored on a one-out grounder by Foster to make it a 2-0 game.
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Morgan singled with one out and Foster then crushed a two-run homer deep to left-center field off the ‘Catfish’, pitcher Jim Hunter of the Yankees, to double the NL’s lead to 4-0. That blast would ultimately lead to Foster being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Meanwhile, Jones was holding down the American League’s top hitters. He would toss three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk, and would eventually be credited with the win.
The AL got one back in the top of the 4th when Lynn pounded a pitch from the New York Mets ace Tom Seaver out deep down the right field line to make it a 4-1 game.
In the top of the 5th, the home crowd in South Philly was pleased to find that both Bowa and Boone had been inserted into the lineup. Cash and Schmidt would enter the game the following inning. Also in the 6th, Money would enter for the American League, the man who Schmidt had replaced at the Phillies third base position a few years earlier. With Luzinski still in the starting lineup, it briefly made for a nice Philadelphia touch to the game.
In the top of the 7th, Luzinski would finally be lifted for pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Sr after the Bull had struggled through an 0-3 performance at the plate. The Phillies contingent would go a collective 1-8 by the end of the game, with only Cash producing a base hit.
That hit from the Phillies veteran leader came to lead off the bottom of the 8th inning against California Angels lefty Frank Tanana. Perez drew a walk to follow Cash, and the Phils’ second sacker then moved over to third base when Bill Russell of the Dodgers hit into a double play.
With two outs and the score still at 4-1, Griffey delivered an RBI single to score Cash. Cesar Cedeno of the Houston Astros then stepped in and blasted a two-run homer deep into the left field stands off Tanana, blowing the game open to a 7-1 lead for the National League, which would hold up as the final score.
As pitcher Ken Forsch wrapped the game up in the bottom of the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Money, Chris Chambliss, and Amos Otis in order, only Boone and Cash remained on the field for the host Phillies and the victorious National League.
The Phillies would not host another MLB All-Star Game for two decades, when the popular exhibition contest among baseball’s top stars would finally return to Veteran’s Stadium in South Philly for one final time. The team is hoping to have Citizens Bank Park named to host the game during the 250th anniversary celebration of our nation’s birth in the summer of 2026.