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Tigers All-Star Moments: 1971 game memorable for so many reasons

The 1971 All-Star Game has got to be one of the most famous days in the long history of Tiger Stadium. The game was the first time Detroit hosted the Midsummer Classic in 20 years, but it sure turned into a memorable one not just because the AL won 6-4.

Greg Eno wrote that days before It even began you could tell the game would be one for the ages.

You knew it was going to be a different type of an All-Star game when Dock Ellis served up a dandy for the sports writers in the days leading up to the contest.

"Ain't no way," Ellis, who was black, told reporters, "they gonna start two brothers against each other in the All-Star game."

Ellis was pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates and having himself a fine year for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971. Already, it had been announced that Vida Blue, another "brother" terrorizing batters pitching for the Oakland Athletics, would be the American League starter.

That year was actually a pretty good one to be a fan of the Tigers. Led by all-star starters Bill Freehan and Norm Cash, future Hall of Famer Al Kaline, Willie Horton and one of the franchise's best pitcher in Mickey Lolich, the club had plenty of recognizable names to fans today. It also won 91 games, though it finished second in the AL that year.

But back to the game: All 10 runs were scored via home run. And the players that hit them? Stars, all of them. From the National League: Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente. From the American League: Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson. All six went on to become Hall of Famers. But that's not the reason the 1971 game was memorable, was it?

No, this was the reason: Jackson's home run went so far, so high that the cameras lost it. The ball did not come to a rest until after it hit the lights at the back of the stadium in right field. The estimated distance was 520 feet.

Here's the video of the moment, which made it to the final eight ASG highlights featured on

Lolich gave up a home run -- to Clemente in his final all-star appearance -- in the eighth inning was was credited with the save. Freehan went 0-for-3, Cash 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeots, and Kaline 1-for-2 with a run.

By the way, remember that story Friday about the last time there were two all-star games in the same season? That second game in 1962 was also the last time the AL won the game until 1971. It was also the only time the AL won the game un 1983. Yeah, that was a heck of a drought: 1-19. So I don't feel too bad for the NL losing so many games in recent years.

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