Though the All-Star Game had been played there just seven years earlier, major league baseball decided that Washington D.C. should also host the 1969 centennial game as a symbolic gesture. Plenty of festivities were planned, and President Nixon was to throw out the first ball, but torrential rains pushed the event back two days. As a result, Nixon had to miss it in order to greet the astronauts returning from a certain giant leap for mankind. Many of the ticketholders too had prior engagements, reducing attendance to one of the lowest ever.
Meanwhile, the National League was in the midst of their complete domination of the Midsummer Classic that lasted 23 years. During that time, the NL went 23-2-1 (two All-Star games were played each year from 1959-62). The 1969 showcase at RFK was no different. The Senior Circuit triumphed by a 9-3 score, tallying all nine runs in the first four innings. Matty Alou, Willie McCovey, Cleon Jones, and Johnny Bench all had two hits. Bench had a homer, but McCovey had two, earning MVP honors. It was a portent of things to come, as Stretch had a career-high 45 home runs and 126 RBI that year, narrowly beating out pennant-winning Tom Seaver for the regular-season MVP. Steve Carlton, still with the St. Louis Cardinals at that time, started the game and got the win. Detroit’s Denny McLain was supposed to start for the American League, but did not want to reschedule a dentist’s appointment made weeks earlier. He arrived at the ballpark in time to pitch the fourth, where he gave up McCovey’s second dinger. The Yankees Mel Stottlemyre started in his place. Hometown hero Frank Howard made a costly error in the game, but walked and homered in his two plate appearances. Here are the starting lineups for both squads.