Six Yankees made the American League All-Star team in 1948. For Joe DiMaggio, it was his 13th appearance. Yogi Berra was made his first.
Another Yankee appearing in his first All-Star Game in ‘48 was pitcher Vic Raschi. He would go on to make another three, and was named the AL’s starting pitcher in two of them. However, his most notable All-Star moment probably didn’t even come on the mound.
The National League scored two runs off AL starting pitcher Walt Masterson in the top of the first in the ‘48 All-Star Game. In the second and third innings, the AL got those two runs back, tying the game.
Raschi came in to start the fourth inning and got three quick outs. In the bottom of the fourth, the AL loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. That brought the ninth spot in the lineup to the plate, which was occupied by Raschi. It was 1948, so Raschi stepped into the batter’s box.
Now yes, All-Star rosters were smaller in 1948. Yes, pitchers used to go longer in the All-Star Games, and Raschi had only thrown one inning at that point. Raschi being allowed to bat in that spot is not the biggest surprise in the world.
However, the other thing you hear about the All-Star Games of the past is that the teams really cared about winning. League bragging rights, Pete Rose, all that stuff. That made the decision to send up Raschi to hit instead of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, who were both on the bench, a little weird.
Six pitchers would go unused from the American League that day, so there were options. The AL’s manager that year was the Yankees’ own Bucky Harris, so that may also have something to do with it.
It wound up being the correct decision, in a way. Raschi singled, driving home two runs. It should not be ignored that Raschi was not even a good hitter for a pitcher. The 1948 season was one of his better years at the plate, but he was still pretty bad.
Weirdly, DiMaggio was then sent in as a pinch hitter for the very next batter, and brought home another run. Raschi threw another two scoreless innings, before Williams pinch hit for him in his next at bat. The American League ended up winning 5-2.
The All-Star Game MVP was not awarded at the time. Had there been one, Raschi would have been the correct choice. Not only was he good on the mound, but he also drove in the winning runs.
In his three other All-Star game appearances, Raschi allowed three runs in a combined eight innings. He only got one other at bat in an All-Star Game. It was a ground out.
For a variety of reasons, pitchers don’t hit in All-Star Games. It’s probably the best decision. However, it does rob us of the possibility that an American League pitcher can get the big hit while Hall of Famers sit on the bench.