Riverfront Stadium had barely been open two weeks when it hosted its first All-Star Game. The game had been hosted by the Cincinnati Reds twice before (1938 and 1953) when their home park had been Crosley Field. The Reds would host one more All-Star Game at Riverfront Stadium in 1988. So close was the opening of the stadium and the scheduled exhibition game, that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn did not confirm that the game would "definitely" be played in Cincinnati until June 1. Atlanta had been the alternative site.
Undeniably, the most remembered moment of the game was the final run, scored in the bottom of the twelfth by Pete Rose. The ball had been relayed to the American League catcher, Ray Fosse, in time to tag Rose out, but the tenacious Rose bowled Fosse over. Both players were injured, Fosse enough to drop the ball, giving Rose credit for the game-winning run.
For the first time since 1957, Major League Baseball restored the selection of the eight position players on each All-Star team to the fans. Fan balloting had been revoked after ballot-stuffing campaigns over a number of years. To avoid a repeat of the problem, the 26 million ballots were evenly distributed to 75,000 retail outlets, and 150 minor and major league stadiums. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn also announced a special panel would be in place to review voting to determine if ballot stuffing had occurred.
Scoring opened in the top of the sixth inning for the AL, with Gaylord Perry pitching in relief for the NL. Ray Fosse singled, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sam McDowell. Two batters later, with one out, Carl Yastrzemski singled home Fosse to give the AL a 1-0 lead.
The American League added another run in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Brooks Robinson singled. Tony Oliva walked, with Robinson advancing to second base. Davey Johnson singled to load the bases. Ray Fosse then hit a sacrifice fly, allowing Robinson to score, pushing the AL advantage to 2-0.
The NL answered in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jim Perry had entered to pitch in relief for the AL, and gave up a single to Bud Harrelson to start the inning. Cito Gaston walked, sending Harrelson to second base. Jim Perry then hit Denis Menke with a pitch to load the bases. Willie McCovey, pinch hitting for Gaylord Perry, grounded into a double play, permitting Harrelson to score and cutting the AL lead to 2-1.
The AL increased their lead in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Carl Yastrzemski and Willie Horton hit back-to-back singles, putting runners at first and second bases. Amos Otis flew out, permitting Yastrzemski to tag up and move to third. Brooks Robinson tripled, scoring Yastrzemski and Horton. The AL now led 4-1.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Catfish Hunter entered to pitch in relief for the AL, and promptly gave up a home run to Dick Dietz. Bud Harrelson singled. One batter later, with one out, Joe Morgan singled, sending Harrelson to second base. Fritz Peterson entered to relieve Hunter. The first batter he faced, Willie McCovey, singled, scoring Harrelson, and moving Morgan to third base. Mel Stottlemyre was sent in to relieve Peterson, as Roberto Clemente was sent to pinch hit for the pitcher, Bob Gibson. Clemente hit a sacrifice fly, permitting Morgan to score. The inning ended with Pete Rose striking out. The 4-4 score sent the game to extra innings.
In the bottom of the twelfth, NL batters were facing Clyde Wright, in his second inning of relief pitching for the AL. With two outs, Pete Rose and Billy Grabarkewitz hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second bases. Jim Hickman singled to Amos Otis in center field. Otis fired the ball to catcher Ray Fosse as Pete Rose ran past third base, heading to home. Otis' throw was on target on the third base side of home plate, and arrived as Rose reached Fosse. Rose bowled over Fosse, forcing him to drop the ball. Rose scored to end the game.
NBC's telecast of the game earned a national Nielsen rating of 28.5, the highest ever for an All-Star Game.
Claude Osteen was credited with the win. Clyde Wright was charged with the loss. Mel Stottlemyre, who permitted the tying run to score in the bottom of the ninth, was charged with a blown save.
Rico Carty became the first player in history to be elected to the All-Star team by the fans as a write-in candidate.
23 year old Ray Fosse suffered a fractured and separated left shoulder when Pete Rose collided with him on the last play of the game. The damage was not immediately noticed in X-rays taken that evening. While he continued playing for about a month, by his own admission, he never regained his swing and never returned to the level of play that he played at before the injury. In a 1999 San Francisco Chronicle interview, he demonstrated that he still could not lift his left arm, and suffers from arthritis as a result of the injury.
This was the NL's eighth consecutive win. The AL would end the streak next year.
Carl Yastrzemski tied the All-Star Game record for hits in a game (4), and singles in a game (3).
Carl Yastrzemski became the second and (as of 2014) last player to win the MVP award while playing for the losing team.
Prior to this year, the award given to the MVP of the game had been called the Arch Ward Memorial Award. Starting this year, the award would be called the Commissioner's Trophy. It would be restored to its original name in 1982 before being renamed for Ted Williams in 2002.
Earl Weaver, the losing manager in this game, would have far more success on his second visit to Riverfront Stadium. His Baltimore Orioles won games 1 and 2 of the World Series in Cincinnati, the first two World Series games contested on artificial turf. The Orioles went on to win the series in five games, closing it out at home without the series returning to Riverfront.
^[Cincinnati to be All-Star Game's Site, June 2, 1970, Chicago Tribune, p. B3, ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest, http://www.proquest.com, Niles Public Library, Niles, Illinois, USA; accessed September 28, 2008]