The last time we saw John Tudor, he was facing Bret Saberhagen in the seventh game of the 1985 World Series. Tudor got shelled; Saberhagen hurled a shutout and was named MVP. On Sunday they met again before 3,300 fans in the fifth Pizza Hut All-Star Softball Game. Tudor even had teammates Vince Coleman and Tommy Herr behind him, as well as some other members of the National League's upper crust, such as Dave Parker, Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry.
Tudor fared pretty much the same this go-around. Just as they did in the seventh game, his pitches appeared as big as softballs to the batters. After the American League built an 8-0 first-inning lead on home runs by Wade Boggs, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice and Phil Bradley, Tudor alibied, "The problem is there's no black in this plate." But after surrendering five more homers and losing by a score of 20-5, he said, "What can I tell you? I was a victim of no support."
The game was held on Longboat Key, a pepperoni-shaped island off the coast of western Florida. Longboat Key was discovered by one of Hernando de Soto's men in 1538. De Soto, you may recall, turned heads in the 16th century—and had a car named after him in the 20th century—because of his exploits under a conquistador named Pizarro.
"I remember Pizarro," said Brooks Robinson, who managed the American League squad. "Used to pitch for the White Sox. Pretty good arm. Just reared back and threw straight. I think I singled off him once."
Sure it was the same Pizarro, Brooks?
"It could have been. You know those Latin American ballplayers. They never tell you their real age."
The NL manager, Lou Brock, was at a loss for an effective strategy. As the National Leaguers came to bat for the last time, Brock told his team, "All we need is to get 15 men on, and then hit a homer." This was Brock's second straight loss. Obviously the American League, which has won four of the five softball tilts, has had better luck in this all-star game than in the real one.
The game was scheduled for Saturday but was postponed by rain. The field had no tarpaulin, which actually suited Coleman just fine. "This season I'll be ready," said the St. Louis outfielder, who was run over by a mechanized field cover before the fourth game of last year's National League Championship Series. "I'm bringing along my own tarp-detector."
Boggs brought along his wife, Debbie, who fixes him a different chicken dish every day. (Wade has written a chicken cookbook. Fowl Tips.) The Red Sox third baseman feasted on Tudor for three homers, a single and eight RBIs in five at bats. Maybe Boggs will tout those numbers on Feb. 21 in New York, when he tries to win a record $1.85 million in arbitration.
At the postgame awards ceremony, Boggs removed his cap to reveal a Jim McMahon-like headband that read MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, the cause behind all this Florida frolicking. Boggs then handed his MVP trophy to his older sister, Ann Morrison, who's confined to a wheelchair with the disease.
"Wade had such a great game because he had chicken pizza at the banquet last night," claimed Debbie. "He was the only player who would eat it. Personally, I thought it could have done with a little barbecue sauce."
Still, this was a welcome first slice of baseball for 1986. Among the fans at the game were 13-year-old Jason Tortorici and his 12-year-old stepbrother, Chris Shrigley. They were busy wangling autographs. "Isn't that the Cardinals' second baseman?" asked Jason.
"Who, him?" said Chris.