Dick Bosman expects he might pitch at RFK Stadium for the first time in 12 years tonight, in the Cracker Jack Old Timers Classic.
Bosman is not Hall of Fame material, not in the same class as the players he would face in this all-star baseball game--Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays. But the last ace of the Washington Senators' staff led the American League in ERA (2.19) in 1969, pitched two one-hitters for the Senators and on this date eight years ago had a no-hitter for Cleveland. He started the last official major-league game in RFK, now in its 11th year without a home team and a decade removed from even its last big-league exhibition. And he's only 38.
Given the age and condition of some of the participants in tonight's game, Bosman, who keeps in shape as the junior varsity coach at O'Connell High School, could be asked to do more than pitch batting practice.
Warren Spahn, who will start for the National League against a former Senator, Early Wynn, for the American, put it in perspective. "We're just going to have to aim the ball a little bit higher to get it to the plate," he said.
To accommodate the slower and heavier players and still get many of the big names into the lineups, managers Walter Alston (NL) and Al Lopez (AL) have had to shuffle some players from their career positions.
The National League's Ernie Banks will be at third base; Harmon Killebrew, the AL cleanup hitter, will be in right field, and Al Kaline will be in center. But Luke Appling, the game's oldest player at 75, will start for the American League at his customary shortstop position.
Still, tonight's game should not be a farce. Most of the players, though thinning on the top and spreading in the middle, regularly compete on the informal circuit of old-timers games for charity.
No one is going to complain if Mays strikes out.
A crowd of 25-30,000 is expected for the 8 p.m. game, which will be broadcast live on WMAL-630 radio at 7:50. Batting practice will begin at 5:30. Before the game, Joe DiMaggio and some other ex-players not participating in the game will be introduced, and there will be a moment of silence for Jackie Jensen. The 1950s Senators and Red Sox outfielder, listed to play tonight, died of a heart attack last week.
As usual in all-star play, the National League is considered the slight favorite in the five-inning exhibition. Besides Spahn and Banks, Alston will start Pee Wee Reese (shortstop), Mays (center field), Musial (left field), Aaron (right field), Phil Cavarretta (first base), Red Schoendienst (second base) and Smokey Burgess (catcher).
The National League reserves include Ted Kluszewski, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Richie Ashburn, Lou Brock, Ralph Kiner and Bobby Thomson. The pitching staff includes Ewell Blackwell, Lew Burdette, Don Newcombe, Robin Roberts and Johnny Vander Meer.
Starting for the American League will be Appling, Bobby Avila (second base), Kaline, Killebrew, Johnny Mize (first base), Brooks Robinson (third base), Enos Slaughter (left field), Bill Freehan (catcher) and Wynn.
On the bench will be Earl Battey, Bobby Richardson, Al Rosen, Mickey Vernon, Larry Doby, Charlie Keller and Roy Sievers. The AL bullpen will have Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Catfish Hunter, Hal Newhouser, Camilo Pascual and Don Larsen.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate tonight for $10, $8, $6 and $3.