MINNEAPOLIS — They played baseball under a Teflon-coated bubble Tuesday night, but for all the memories that will stick, the 56th All-Star game might as well have been played in a sealed crypt.
Once again, the National League buried the American League, winning, 6-1, for its 13th victory in the last 14 meetings, 21st in the last 23, and 36th overall against 19 losses and a tie.
The largest crowd to see a baseball game in Minnesota history, 54,960, came to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome expecting a repeat of the home run derby that was staged here in practice on Monday.
Instead, an American League starting lineup that had a combined 118 home runs coming in managed all of five singles and an unearned run against five National League pitchers, two of whom--LaMarr Hoyt and Nolan Ryan--split the first six innings evenly. You have to go back to 1963 to find the last time an All-Star team wasn't able to produce an extra-base hit.
When they played the All-Star game here 20 years ago, in the great outdoors, there were five home runs. Neither team hit one out in air-conditioned splendor Tuesday night, the first time that's happened since 1976.
"I was bored," admitted Pedro Guerrero of the Dodgers, who couldn't play because of back spasms but found it almost as painful to watch.
"I went into the clubhouse in the fifth inning and watched it on TV. I pretended I was at home. But we won, though, so I was happy.
"Maybe next year I'll get to start," he said, laughing, "if somebody gets hurt."
Hoyt, the San Diego right-hander whose selection as the NL's starting pitcher so offended Joaquin Andujar of St. Louis that he decided he'd rather pout than pitch, was named Most Valuable Player after his two-hit, three-inning stint.
Hoyt, who won a Cy Young Award for the White Sox in 1983 but was making his first All-Star appearance, gave up a run in the first when Rickey Henderson of the Yankees opened with a single, stole second and continued to third on catcher Terry Kennedy's throwing error, then scored on George Brett's sacrifice fly.
But that was the last to be heard from the American League team, and Hoyt suggested that the arms race has taken a decided tilt to the National side.
"In this league, I've seen pitchers who can absolutely dominate a game," he said. "Most of them are here, and the American League hitters aren't even going to see them all.
"I don't think I saw quite the same kind of pitching I saw in the AL, but of course, I have to hit against these guys."
In the American League, where the designated hitter is in use, Hoyt didn't get to take his swings.
Hoyt, one of seven Padres on the team, wasn't the only San Diego player to give a good account of himself.
Kennedy, added to the team only after Gary Carter of the Mets injured a knee last Saturday, singled in Darryl Strawberry with the National League's first run in the second. First baseman Steve Garvey singled in the go-ahead run in the third off Detroit's Jack Morris, the American League starter and loser. Garry Templeton pinch-hit and singled in the fourth, and Goose Gossage came out of the bullpen in the ninth and struck out the American League's last two batters, Jim Rice and Rich Gedman of the Red Sox, to end the game.
One of Williams' coaches, Ozzie Virgil, also made an indirect contribution to the National League's win. It was a two-run, broken-bat single in the fifth by Virgil's son, Phillies catcher Ozzie Virgil Jr., that made it 4-1 and all but academic.
"It was a thrill for both of us," Virgil fils said. "It was very special just having him on the same side since I am usually playing against him."
Just as it was better that Virgil was catching Houston's Ryan instead of trying to hit him, which the American Leaguers attempted in vain. In fact, Ryan almost hit the American League All-Stars better than they hit him, decking Henderson in the fifth with a pitch under his chin and dropping Henderson's Yankee teammate, Dave Winfield, with another 90 m.p.h.-plus fastball that Winfield fouled off in self-defense.
"Ryan is intimidating," said Pete Rose, the Cincinnati player-manager who made his All-Star debut here 20 years ago and grounded out against Donnie Moore of the Angels in a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth.
"I can't believe the stuff he has. His philosophy is that 'the inside part of the plate is mine,' and I'm not giving in to anybody. He's an intimidator."
Rose, who is 44, and Ryan, 38, have been around so long that they were asked to throw out the ceremonial first ball. But while Ryan blew old smoke past American League eyes, striking out Henderson with a 3-and-2 fastball with two runners on, Williams never summoned the new smoke of Dwight Gooden, the Met strikeout artist who begged off after pitching Sunday.
Ryan said he wasn't deliberately pitching hitters tight.
"I was wild tonight, and if you notice all the pitchers had a tendency to fall behind in the count," he said.