Three Athletics on the American League All-Star team. It hardly seems possible. But the showing so far of last year’s ninth place team has been equally surprising. They seem to be living in the first division despite having been selected to finish in the cellar by most pickers. None of the A’s was chosen by the votes of the players, but Mayo Smith, the Detroit pilot who led the A.L. team, selected John Blue Moon Odom, center fielder Rick Monday, and shortstop Bert Campaneris. It was the first All-Star Game for all three.
It’s different than last year. For instance, Odom had to be sent down the minors because of control problems. At the end of the season, he had a 2-10 record. This season, he leads the American League with a miniscule 1.33 ERA with seven complete games including three shutouts. Odom confirmed his All-Star berth with a 1-0 one-hit shutout in Anaheim on Monday. Odom struck out eight Angels, and walked only one. Don Mincher spoiled the no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh with a clean single to right. In a glimpse of this season’s greatness, Odom carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning in Cleveland back in his rookie campaign of 1966. Leon Wagner opened the inning with a single. “It’s hard to say how I feel,” said Odom when he learned of his selection. “But it’s a thrill.” The 23-year-old Georgian had a 8-3 record when he was selected.
Monday, a 22-year-old, has been among the league’s leading hitters all season. He was selected as Player of the Month for April. He injured his left Achilles tendon in the middle of May, but has returned to the Oakland lineup. “I’m naturally quite elated,” said Rick. “And I think the other teams are becoming more aware of us.” Monday, of course, was a rookie in 1967, a year he probably would have spent in the minors if the Athletics had a better team. He’ll always be remembered, in any case, as baseball’s first-ever free-agent draftee. He got $104,000 to sign in 1965.
Campaneris, the oldie in the group at 26, is the stolen base champion from the last three seasons. Campy has been hitting around .250 all season and could have done better with a little more rest. “Campy’s really a grinder,” said Manager Bob Kennedy. “He’s not the strongest guy around. There’s such a thing as running a good thing into the ground.” Campaneris is on pace to eclipse his career high of 52 stolen bases this season.
In a roster move, lefthander Tony Pierce developed tendinitis in his pitching elbow and was optioned to Vancouver (Pacific Coast). Righthanded reliever Ken Sanders was recalled from the same club to take Pierce’s place.