LEEinks list: Most memorable All-Star moments
|07.13.10 at 7:57 am ET|
Since the start of the All-Star tradition in 1933 — skipped only in 1945 because of World War II — Major League Baseball’s midsummer matchup has featured dazzling plays and unforgettable feats by the best players to grace the field.
Here’s a list of some of the memorable moments that have impressed us, frustrated us, or simply made us appreciate the tradition that is the MLB All-Star Game.
July 10, 1934: Hubbell strikes out five legends
The 1934 All-Star Game at the New York Polo Grounds brought some of the best hitters in the history of the game together on one field. But it also brought Carl Hubbell’s screwball. Though Hubbell got off to a rough start, allowing Charlie Gehringer a leadoff single (he then moved to second base on outfield error) followed by a walk to Heinie Manush, Hubbell quickly regrouped. He struck out the next three batters — all-time greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. The next inning, whiffs of Al Simmons and Joe Cronin would make it five strikeouts in a row for Hubbell.
July 9, 1946: Ted Williams returns from war and goes 4-for-4
With World War II’s end, the Midsummer Classic returned after a one-year hiatus on July 9, 1946, at Fenway Park. While many of the league’s rivals hadn’t faced each other in years, Ted Williams and Rip Sewell provided the matchup everyone had been waiting for. Sewell tried to keep Williams at bay with his high-lobbing “eephus” pitch, but Williams homered — the only player to hit a home run on the pitch — and ended up going 4-for-4 with five RBI to contribute to the American League’s 12-0 blowout.
July 14, 1970: Pete Rose scores on a game-winning collision
In the 1970 All-Star Game, hard-nosed Pete Rose slammed into 23-year-old AL catcher Ray Fosse at home plate, fracturing and separating his shoulder. Fosse dropped the ball and Rose scored the game-winning run to give the NL a 5-4 victory. Some felt Rose’s extreme slide went too far for an exhibition game.
July 12, 1971: Reggie Jackson’s long bomb
As a late All-Star substitution for the injured Tony Oliva, Reggie Jackson hit what is said to be the longest home run ever recorded in professional baseball. It came in the second inning of the 1971 All-Star Game off Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis on an 0-2 count. Scientific analysis by Wayne State University indicated the monstrous homer was on a trajectory to travel 650 feet when it hit the light tower at Tiger Stadium — 400 feet from home plate. Willie Mays caught the rebounded ball and gave it to Jackson to keep.
July 11, 1989: Bo Jackson’s MVP performance
Jackson, the two-sport professional sports star, walked up to the plate as the leadoff hitter in the 1989 All-Star Game in Anaheim and smashed one of the longest All-Star home runs in history off Rick Reuschel. Jackson’s leadoff bomb, an estimated 448 feet, launched over the center field fence and halfway up two sections of seats. His next time at bat, the phenom drove in a run by beating out a double-play grounder, giving the AL the lead. On top of that, Bo singled, stole a base, and snatched Pedro Guerrero’s line drive in the outfield to stymie the NL’s efforts to bring in two runners in scoring position with two outs in the first inning. His tremendous performance earned him the MVP award for 1989.
July 13, 1993: John Kruk’s comedy show vs. Randy Johnson
The first Midsummer Classic to be held at Baltimore’s Camden Yards in 1993 is memorable more for its playfulness than its play. Phillies first baseman John Kruk stepped into the batter’s box facing AL starter Randy Johnson. The Seattle southpaw let a 98-mph fastball loose over Kruk’s head, causing him to clutch his heart and smile back at Johnson from the batter’s box. Kruk backed out of the box, and by the time he stepped back in, seemingly lost all coordination as he swung wildly to avoid Johnson’s left-handed heat.
In one of the most tearful first pitches in baseball, Ted Williams was commemorated after being driven to the Fenway Park pitcher’s mound in a golf cart at the All-Star Game in 1999. Williams was surrounded by the 1999 All-Stars and a number of MLB veterans, solidifying it as one of the most meaningful moments in All-Star Game history.
July 13, 1999: Pedro Martinez’ four consecutive strikeouts
Following Ted Williams’ emotional first pitch at Fenway Park, Pedro Martinez took the stage as he took down Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa on consecutive strikeouts in the first inning. The next time he stepped up to the mound, in the top of the second, Martinez silenced home run hero Mark McGwire in a performance channeling Carl Hubbell’s historic strikeout streak in 1934. Though Matt Williams followed by reaching on a fielding error, ending Martinez’s efforts to match Hubbell’s streak, Pedro then struck out Jeff Bagwell on a 3-2 curveball, striking out five of the six batters faced in the two innings he worked, on just 28 pitches. After Williams was caught on his attempt to steal, Martinez left the game to a roaring crowd as the American League went on to win the contest, 4-1. Martinez’s five-man fanning earned him MVP honors.
July 10, 2001: Cal Ripken Jr. plays shortstop and homers
Ripken took the field as starting third baseman in his final All-Star appearance when Alex Rodriguez offered up the shortstop position to the Orioles legend. In the third inning of the game, Ripken stepped up to the plate at Seattle’s Safeco Field to a standing ovation. Whether it was the adrenaline of his last All-Star appearance — after playing in 19 — or the roar of the crowd, Ripken knocked Chan Ho Park’s first pitch over the left field wall. At the age of 40 he became the oldest All-Star to homer and the oldest to win All-Star MVP honors.
July 9, 2002: Game called a tie after the 11th inning
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