MLB broke new ground with 1963 Hispanic All-Star Game

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Katherine Acquavella

It was the last baseball game ever played at the Polo Grounds in New York City, but few baseball fans today know about it.

One week after the conclusion of the 1963 season on Oct. 12, 1963 Major League Baseball held its first and only Hispanic All-Star Game.

The game featured a roster of several future Hall of Famers; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Luis Aparicio of Venezuela and Tony Oliva of Cuba were in the American League’s lineup while San Francisco Giants first baseman Orlando Cepeda, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente, both of Puerto Rico, and Giants’ pitcher Juan Marichal of the Dominican Republic were on the National League team.

In a stadium that could fit 55,000, only 14,235 attended the game.

Despite the small attendance, and even smaller media coverage, the players enjoyed themselves.

“That was a great idea and we had a great time,” Cepada told Amanda Rykoff of The Outside Corner.

Future American League Most Valuable Player Zoilo Versalles, seven-time Gold Glove Award winner Vic Power and pinch-hitting specialist Manny Mota appeared in the game.

Two-time World Series champion Héctor López also played alongside the five future Hall of Famers.

The National League defeated the American League 5-2 with Marichal throwing four shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out six.

“There was a lot of competition in those days between the National League and the American League, and each member of the team really wanted to beat those guys,” Marichal told the New York Daily News.

Down 5-0 heading into the ninth inning, the American League started to rally.

With New York Mets’ Eduardo Bauta of Cuba on the mound in the ninth inning, the American League scored two runs.

But Bauta secured the victory before the American League could complete its comeback.

The National League’s win made it three-straight interleague wins in 1963.

The NL had already won the regular-season All-Star Game and World Series.

Katherine Acquavella was a public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series