Bob Friend most remembers two things about coming to Washington in July 1956 to start for the National League in the 24th all-star game at Griffith Stadium.
One was the humidity, but that is a fact of summer life that sticks to anyone who comes within 50 miles of this city. The other recollection, though, is much more unusual.
"I struck out Ted Williams on a called third strike with the bases loaded; that was an exciting day in a beautiful ballpark," said Friend, who arrived here yesterday and will play for the National League in tonight's fifth National Old Timers Baseball Classic, at 8:15 p.m. at RFK Stadium.
Twenty-one National Leaguers will face 26 from the American League, which has lost the last three years and trails the series, 3-1. As of yesterday afternoon, Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Whitey Ford were scheduled to start for the National and American leagues, respectively.
A spokesman for the game said yesterday that former Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew will not be able to attend tonight's game because of a prior commitment he could not change -- broadcasting a Twins game in Chicago. Killebrew was unavailable to comment last night.
This year will be the 30th anniversary of that all-star game, which was the first that Friend pitched in. He knew of Williams "only by reputation."
"The bases were loaded and the count was 3-2," Friend remembers. "He took a third strike looking for a fastball. I saw him 10 years later and he said, 'You'll never get another chance to do that.' We were both out of baseball by then. He was kidding, but he meant it. It was the only time I faced him in my career."
Friend played for the Pittsburgh Pirates 1951-65, then spent part of the 1966 season with both New York teams. In 1955, he became the first pitcher to lead the league in ERA (2.83) while playing for a last-place team.
He pitched the first three innings for the National League, giving up three hits and striking out three en route to a 7-3 victory in the 1956 game.
"I remember shutting them out, and Ken Boyer had a great game at third," said Friend, who was relieved in the fourth inning by Spahn.
"It was my first all-star game, so it was a thrill for me," Friend said. "The funny thing was I started the season about 11-3, but I had a terrible throat condition and missed my last turn before the all-star game . Walter Alston was managing the all-star team. I think I was going to be pulled. Joe Brown called Alston and said I was okay. I wasn't going to miss that."
That game also was a thrill for Jack Hughes, now a 44-year-old businessman from Columbia, Md. Yesterday, he was waiting in a hotel lobby with other fans, hoping for an autograph as players arrived. But 30 years ago, he was the bat boy for Friend's National League team.
Hughes was a freshman at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville when he began his first and only season as the visiting teams' bat boy at Griffith. "It was just that one year," he said, "but it turned out to be a pretty good year."
He got the job because he had hung around outside the Senators' clubhouse, got to know the Senators' bat boy and, when he was promoted to visiting clubhouse man, an opening was created. He earned $2.50 per day. But he didn't do it for the money.
"The thing I remember most about the all-star game was that Warren Giles, the National League president, sat in the corner box seat next to the dugout. He was yelling encouragement, and everytime I ran out to get a bat, he'd yell, 'Run faster.' I thought it was pretty absurd because I was running my fanny off.
"The clubhouse was utterly chaotic. During the year, nobody really came in, occasionally the press. But on that day, people were coming out of the woodwork. I was in awe. All the names were there -- Willie Mays, Ted Kluszewski, Stan Musial. Obviously, I was excited."
Hughes also had a loyalty problem.
"My heart was torn between the two teams as far as who to cheer for," he said. "I really cared about the American League, but I didn't want to sit around a somber clubhouse."