Humality and candor were the order of the day on the eve of the 48th baseball All-Star Game.
Billy Martin, manager of the New York Yankees and American League skipper for Tuesday's game, surprisingly said some nice things about the press. "It proves," he said, "that the All-Star Game is a holiday. Why can't you guys be that friendly all year?
Why, Martin was asked, must every team be represented in the All-Star Game? "They shoudn't," he said. "It's answers like this that keep getting me fired."
Sparkfy Anderson, of Cincinnati, the National League manager, ttok note that some heretics, such as Nolan Ryan of the California Angels, had refused the command perfomance. Ryan was selected when teammate Frank Tanana came up with a sore arm, but refused to join the squad.
"Disgraceful," said Anderson. "I see where some guys are avoiding the greatest show on earth. When a player is chosen, he should accept. We who love baseball think it's a disgrace not to accept."
Don Sutton, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will be the NL's starting pitcher at Yankee Stadium, seemed to contradict himself. "I admire Ryan's honesty," he said. "I think ballplayers tend to tell people what they like to hear." But a moment later, Sutton added, "Anybody with any pride should want to play in the All-Star Game. As far as I'm concerned, this is exciting for me. I spent all my childhood dreaming about Yankee Stadium.
"The Yankees always were my heroes and I spent a lot of time as a kid pitching mental shutouts. The Yankees could have had me, by the way, but they wouldn't pay me the big bonus I asked - $2,000."
There was some surprise that Anderson is not going to start his newest acquisition, Tom Seaver, instead of Sutton. "I know why," cracked Sutton. "Sparky wants to start Seaver Thursday.
Retired stars Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays are honorary captains of the two squads and will be in uniform and on the bench Tuesday night.
DiMaggio was asked if he thought Rod Carew of the Minnesota Twins, currently batting .394, had a shot at being the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak the same year and nudged out Williams for the American League's Most Valuable Player award. Williams never got over the shock.
"No," said DiMaggio candidly, "I don't think Carew will do it. Williams told me he doubted it could be done, too. It's almost impposible these days because there are fresh relief pitchers who can stop you.
"This is only half a season. I remember that when I was on that 56-game streak, a lot of pitchers would pitch around me. There was one guy, Johnny Babich, of the old Philadelphia A's, who had been discarded by the Yankees and had it in for us. He walked me twice in on game and then he was 3 and 0 when he threw me a high, wide one. I rapped it between his legs for a hit to keep the stread going."