All Star Game brings back Steubenville memories

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When I was just a kid growing up in Steubenville, Ohio, just 39 miles from Pittsburgh, I became a huge Pirates fan. It was in my blood as my Dad’s brother Bill Saber was pitching in the minors for the Pirate organization.

When I was just a kid growing up in Steubenville, Ohio, just 39 miles from Pittsburgh, I became a huge Pirates fan. It was in my blood as my Dad’s brother Bill Saber was pitching in the minors for the Pirate organization.

The city was great. We had a cigar store it seemed on every corner (where you could make your bets in the back) and it seemed everyone had some free cash to spend.

We had a beautiful train station and we would catch rides to Pittsburgh and go to Forbes Field and watch the Pirates play. I think the round trip tickets were $1.60, less for us kids.

Now that brings me to this year’s All Star game in Cincinnati.

The All Star game was one of my all-time favorites back then but not so much now with the players bouncing from team to team. Also, there were no divisions back then just the AL and NL. No Interleague play during the season.

So the only time we got to see the big players from the other league was in the All Star game or World Series and it was a treat.

There is something about this year’s edition that churned memories from 1960. This year the Pirates placed two starting pitchers on the team, A.J. Burnett, who makes his first All Star appearance this year at 38, and Pirates ace Gerrit Cole.

The last time Pittsburgh had two starting pitchers on an NL All Star team was way back in 1960, the year they beat the mighty Yanks in the World Series. Do you know what team won the 1960 All Star game and which player was named MVP?

First just let me name a few players for the American League that may be familiar to my readers, Whitey Ford, Nellie Fox, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Brooks Robinson, Ted Williams. Now those were some true All Stars to say the least.

The NL had some name players on their team also with the likes of Henry Aaron, Ernie “Bingo” Banks, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Stan Musial. Wow, what players.

In 1960 there were two All Star games. The first was played on July 11 at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City and the second on July 13 at Yankee Stadium.

In the first game Pittsburgh’s Bob Friend took the hill and his mates led by Mays and Banks got him a nice 3-run lead in the first inning with Ernie blasting a homer. The AL tried to come back but the other Pirates starter that year Vernon “Deacon” Law came on and closed it out in the 9th inning to secure the win for Friend.

Now it gets even more amazing in New York just two days later in Game 2 as it is unheard of in today’s baseball. Law takes the hill at Yankee Stadium for the start and gives up nada — something the Yanks would see more of in the World Series.

The NL goes on to win 6-0 getting homers from Mays, Musial, Eddie Mathews and Ken Boyer. Both Pirates starting hurlers wound up with the wins.

There was no MVP award back then. It was all about the team. How the “me, me, me” world of today has changed.

With the Pirates winning 3 of 4 from the Cards to end the first half of the 2015 season and the Yanks building a 3½ game lead in the AL East could we be seeing some déjà vu?

No more trains stop in Steubenville, the mills are all gone and the downtown is close to a ghost town, take me back to the 60’s I’m begging you!

Thinking Del Mar

Since we can’t go back we will look at some good stuff happening this week and next. First, Del Mar opens this Thursday and next week the Saratoga meet starts with some great racing.

If you can’t make it to either spa, stop into one of your favorite Station Casinos race books. They have opened up their coffers and are giving us lowly horse bettors comp points for every dollar wagered on win place and show plus all exotic wagers from July 16-31.

Build those comp points up and always remember you could be walking around lucky and not even know it!

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected]

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