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Tommy Davis, Don Drysdale & the 1963 All-Star Game

Four Dodgers were named to the midsummer classic in Cleveland

1963 MLB All-Star Game Photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images

A hot streak to start July propelled the 1963 Dodgers to the best record in the National League at the All-Star break, and Los Angeles is represented by four players at the 35th MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 9 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tommy Davis was the lone Dodger voted to start by players, managers, and coaches. Fans did not vote for starting position players at this time, after ballot stuffing by Reds fans in 1957.

Pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and shortstop Maury Wills were chosen to the 25-man All-Star roster by National League manager Alvin Dark, who won the pennant over the Dodgers with the Giants one year earlier.

Koufax, whose 269 strikeouts in 1961 set a National League record, leads the majors with 150 strikeouts at the All-Star break. Second with 138 strikeouts is Drysdale, who led the majors in strikeouts in 1962 en route to winning the Cy Young Award. Drysdale also led the majors in strikeouts in 1959 and 1960.

The 27-year-old Koufax is enjoying his finest season to date, leading the majors with a 1.73 ERA, and also has the most wins (14) and shutouts (eight). Koufax made the National League All-Star team for a third consecutive season.

Drysdale, who started All-Star Games in 1959 and 1962, leads the majors with 170⅔ innings pitched at the break. This is the fourth year making the All-Star team for the 26-year-old right-hander.

Davis is atop the National League in batting again this year, hitting .327 one year after leading the majors in batting average (.346), hits (230), and runs batted in (153). The 24-year-old Davis is an All-Star for the second straight season.

Wills is third in the NL with a .321 average, despite missing time with leg injuries. Since returning from the sidelines at the beginning of June, Wills hit .388 with a .425 on-base percentage in 31 games heading into the break.

After breaking the major league record with 104 stolen bases last year, Wills has been relatively subdued on the basepaths this season. But his 20 steals at the break are only one off the National League lead, currently shared by Reds outfielders Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson.

This is the third straight year Wills, 30, is an All-Star.

Previous 1963 reviews: Snider to Mets | Nate Oliver | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13

Dark selected Reds left-hander Jim O’Toole, 13-6 with a 2.02 ERA, to start the midsummer classic over Koufax, who pitched a shutout two days prior.

Davis led off and played left field, with Willie Mays in center and Henry Aaron in right. Davis grounded out to third against Angels right-hander Ken McBride to begin the game. Davis also threw out White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox at home plate to end the bottom of the first inning, trying to score on a single by Tigers outfielder Al Kaline.

Davis singled against McBride to help ignite a two-run rally in the third, though Davis was forced out at second base on a grounder and did not score.

In the fifth inning, Davis led off again, this time with a walk against Tigers right-hander Jim Bunning. Davis advanced to third on a one-out error, then scored the go-ahead run on a groundout by Mays. Davis was replaced on defense in left field in the bottom of the ninth by longtime Dodgers icon Duke Snider, who was sold to the Mets a week before opening day.

The National League added an insurance run in the top of the eighth off Dick Radatz, then turned the ball over to Drysdale, who started the first of two All-Star Games in 1962.

Drysdale struck out Yankees catcher Elston Howard and Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski to open the eighth, then was rescued by a running catch by Mays on a long drive off the bat of Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone.

Brooks Robinson singled to center off Drysdale with one out in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate. But Drysdale got Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson to ground into a 3-6-3 double play to end the game.

Saves were six years away from becoming an official statistic, but had they existed in 1963 Drysdale would have earned one with his two scoreless frames.

Wills did not play in the midsummer classic, with fellow former MVP Dick Groat of the Pirates playing all nine innings at shortstop. Koufax did not pitch, though he was warming up in the bullpen in the eighth inning.

Mays, who singled, drove in two (including Davis), and stole two bases, was named All-Star Game MVP, in the second year of the award’s existence.

The win by the National League evened the All-Star battle, 17-17-1. The NL has won 13 of the last 18 midsummer classics.