There's nothing like a long-awaited rainstorm to turn an All-Star workout into an All-Star washout.

While 50,000 fans shared in a $4 letdown outside, the best players in the majors spent Monday afternoon in the Riverfront Stadium clubhouses, working up a case of writer's cramp.They signed and signed and signed - 30 dozen balls each - and the signatures made you wonder if you hadn't stumbled into some sort of time warp. In place of Tony Gwynn, there was Rafael Palmeiro. In place of Mike Schmidt, Bobby Bonilla. And in place of Keith Hernandez, Andres Galarraga.

Does the influx of newcomers reflect a shift in the major-league baseball hierarchy? "No," said National League manager Whitey Herzog. "I think it's a reflection of a lot of veterans having lousy years."

Herzog made the comment partially in jest, but when the American and National league stars drifted into town Monday, the transition from perennials to peach fuzz seemed complete.

Of the 56 players who participated in the 59th Major-League All-Star game Tuesday night, 30 are here for the first time. No game since the 1933 inaugural in Chicago has seen more new blood.

Typical of the Monday proceedings was Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy, who failed to make the team for the first time in seven years. He showed up at the Hyatt Regency in the morning to accept the Roberto Clemente Award, then left town before the scheduled workouts.

Particularly noticeable by their absence: Gwynn, Schmidt, Tim Raines, Murphy, Hernandez and Juan Samuel in the National League, and Willie Randolph, George Bell and Jack Morris in the American League.

Of the National League's 28 All-Stars, 18 were making their first appearance. With the exception of Ozzie Smith and Ryne Sandberg, every infielder is making his debut.

"It's like a new crop," said Reds pitcher Danny Jackson, a first-time selection. "You look around this clubhouse and see guys like Bobby Bonilla, or Barry Larkin, or Chris Sabo. These are guys you're going to see over the next few years. Times are changing - new faces in new places."

Sandberg, one of six Chicago Cubs on the team, said, "It's obvious from our club. We were a veteran team in '86, and all of a sudden there are only three or four of us left. The rest are young players. For some reason or another, there are a lot of teams like that in the National League."

While the names have changed, the goal remained the same. Herzog's All-Star wish list was as follows: 1) Get everyone in the game; 2) hope no one gets hurt; and 3) win the game.

Toward that end, he threw a change of pace at the American Leaguers. Fastballer Dwight Gooden started for the National League, and he was followed by slowballer Bob Knepper.

Gooden was chosen to start after the Cubs' Greg Maddux (15-3) and the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser (13-4) pitched Sunday.

Minnesota's Frank Viola (14-2) started for the American League. Boston's Roger Clemens, who has had a slight hamstring problem, followed.

Gooden pitched in his first All-Star game five years ago at age 19. He struck out Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon and Alvin Davis in the first inning he worked.

While that appearance will always be special in his eyes, this one has to be especially satisfying in view of his later drug problems and subsequent rehabilitation. "I look back on last year at this time, and I was watching the All-Star game on TV, wishing I could be there," Gooden said.

As for Viola, he was voted World Series MVP last October, but enjoyed few of the perks usually associated with such an honor. As he's well aware, that's a hazard of pitching outside the national limelight in Minnesota.

Unlike some of his fellow All-Stars, Viola makes no attempt to hide his elation. Teammate Kent Hrbek, upset over past slights, has said he will never play in an All-Star game if asked.