Unheralded Steve Stone of the Baltimore Orioles will be the starting pitcher for the American League in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.
Stone, a right-hander who five years ago thought his career was ended with a disabling arm injury, will be one of 14 first-time AL stars who will face a National League squad in the 51st All-Star Game to be televised nationally by ABC (WJLA-TV-7, 8:30 p.m.).
"I've played the game 12 years and never received any honors," Stone said at a news conference today. "Now in the last two weeks I've been selected the American League pitcher of the month, and now the starting American League pitcher in the All-Star Game.
"I haven't sold my soul to the devil," he said, "but I've had a hard time convincing my parents."
Stone (12-3, 3.10 ERA) was selected to start by his manager, Earl Weaver, who will direct the AL squad in an effort to break an eight-game winning streak by the National League, which has a 31-18-1 advantage. Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner heads the NL squad that will defend a record of 16 wins in the last 17 games.
The selection of Stone, a curve-ball specialist, is a change in pitching styles for the American League, which in recent years has called on fast ball pitchers. But Weaver stood by his choice.
"He's on three days of rest," said the feisty manager, who took some kidding from AL President Lee MacPhail early in the conference for his game ejection Sunday in Baltimore. "Steve's tied with Tommy John for total wins and the NL has seven right-hand hitters in the starting lineup."
Stone, 33, suffered a rotary-cuff muscle tear in his pitching arm in 1976 and chose a weight lifting program instead of surgery, unlike John. He is familiar with most of the opposition. He pitched for the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs before going to the Chicago White Sox in the reentry draft in 1977. He joined the Orioles in 1979.
"I've faced every hitter in the (NL) lineup," Stone noted. "But there's no advantage. If I throw strikes I'll get the batters out. Bad pitches and they'll hit me.
"The most difficult batter I had to face in the National League was Ted Simmons and he's not playing."
Stone's counterpart in the NL starting lineup is Houston fireballer J. R. Richard, who is also making his first All-Star Game appearance.Richard (10-4, 1.96 ERA) will be working after four days rest.
"It was between J. R. and (Steve) Carlton for my starting pitcher," said Tanner. "Steve has the most wins but he pitched yesterday (Sunday). Both are deserving. Nobody throws harder in baseball than J. R."
Richard admits to having "no background on the AL hitters . . . but I always wanted to see what it's like to pitch in the AL. It'll come sooner than I expected."
Both starters can work no more than three innings and neither may last that long.
"It's a different type of ball game," explained Weaver. "You make moves you wouldn't make during the season. I'll let the situation take care of itself. I might bring a reliever in to get us out of a jam and then go back to a starter the next inning. That will give the starters a longer time to warm up.
Also making his first start for the American League is Milwaukee outfielder Ben Oglivie the current AL home run leader with 21. Three of the eight elected AL players are out with disabling injuries. They are George Brett, Paul Molitor and Jim Rice.
Four Yankees will start. Willie Randolph has replaced Molitor at second and Graig Nettles will sub for Brett at third. Reggie Jackson and Bucky Dent were selected by the fans.
The National League will be without its leading home run hitter, Mike Schmidt of the Phillies, and Giant hurler Vida Blue. Both are injured.
Four Dodgers will start including three-fourths of the regular infield. Steve Garvey will be at first, Davey Lopes at second and Bill Russell at shortstop. Reggie Smith will be in right field.
Named honorary captains for the first-ever All-Star Game played at Dodger Stadium are Al Kaline (Tigers) and Roy Campanella . . . Jim Frey, a coach with Weaver last year in Baltimore and now the manager of the Kansas City Royals, and Oriole Frank Robinson will coach the AL squad.