Jim O'Toole: An Unlikely Starter In the 1963 All-Star Game

If you have gray hair like me, or your Social Security Number is less than 10, or you are also a baseball historian, you probably liked the 1960s. That was a tremendous time to be a baseball fan, even if you were just a kid. Great players, old ball yards that are long since gone, and an era that produced at least four of the top 10 players of all time.

I was thinking of the pitching that permeated the decade, and of course the All-Star games. You know the names, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, Don Drysdale and Jim O’Toole. What’s that? You ask why O’Toole should be mentioned in the same sentence with those greats.

Let us fire up the wayback machine and have Mr. Peabody set the dial for 1963. The National League pitching staff (a total of eight back then) featured the regular crowd. There was Koufax, Spahn, Marichal, Drysdale, Larry Jackson, Ray Culp, Hal Woodeshick and Cincinnati’s own O’Toole.  The shock comes in the form of who got the starting call. You had four pitchers on the staff who eventually would become members of the Hall of Fame. The nod went to the 26-year old southpaw from the Reds.

Not that he didn’t deserve it, because he did. He had a record of 13-6 with a sparkling ERA of 2.02 at the break. Koufax was off to a very good start on the first of his CYA and MVP seasons as well.

O’Toole went two innings and gave way to winner Larry Jackson. He gave up an earned run and four hits with one strikeout. That would be his first and final appearance in a mid-summer classic. He goes into the history books with an ERA of 4.50. The senior circuit went on to win that game 5-3.

It may not have been the greatest thing that ever happened but what a story to tell your grandchildren that you got the starting nod over all of those Hall of Famers.

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