Fergie Jenkins recalls his best All-Star Game memory
Imagine being a 24-year-old in your second big-league season and having to face a gauntlet of Hall of Famers.
And just when you think you’re going to get a bit of a reprieve with the No. 8 hitter, Mickey Mantle steps to the plate as a pinch-hitter.
That’s what Fergie Jenkins had to contend with on July 11, 1967. The Cubs Hall of Famer made it to 3 All-Star Games over his illustrious career but that first trip to the Midsummer Classic stands out to him.
Jenkins pitched 3 innings that afternoon in Anaheim in a game that ultimately went 15 innings. He allowed only 1 run on 3 hits and struck out 6 batters while facing a whopping 6 Hall of Famers from the American League squad.
The only run he gave up was a Brooks Robinson home run and he struck out Harmon Killebrew, Tony Conigliaro, Jim Fregosi, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva. Oh yeah, and he caught Mantle looking.
“I had a lot of adrenaline going,” Jenkins said on a recent episode of “Icons of the Ivy.” “I was 23 years old. Ernie [Banks] was on the team at the time and I can recall when I sat down, he’s fanning me with a towel like trying to cool me off. I’m like, ‘I’m fine, Ernie! I’m fine.’
“It was a lot of fun. When you play that first All-Star Game and the adrenaline’s flowing and you have your first strikeout, you say to yourself, ‘man, I’m happy to be here.’ It was fun.”
Ryne Sandberg — who was also on the “Icons of the Ivy” panel — couldn’t believe an umpire actually rung up the iconic Mickey Mantle with a second-year pitcher on the mound.
“It was an afternoon ballgame,” Jenkins said, laughing. “Some of the guys said they couldn’t see the ball. I said, ‘that’s fine with me!’ … Guys were taking pitches, I was like, ‘thank you!'”
Not only was Jenkins facing a bunch of Hall of Fame studs, he pitched in between two legends — Juan Marichal (who started the game) and Bob Gibson (who came in after Jenkins).
The National League eventually won the game on a Tony Perez homer off Catfish Hunter in the top of the 15th inning.