The 10 Best Performances in MLB All-Star Game History
With the Midsummer Classic just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to take a look back at some of the most impressive performances in the history of the All-Star Game.
I have to emphasize the performance part of this, as this is not a list of the most memorable moments in the game's history. If it were, you would no doubt find the Randy Johnson vs. John Kruk matchup on the list, but alas, it is not.
So here are the 10 best performances in MLB All-Star Game history. Feel free to add anything I may have left off.
No. 10: Fred Lynn, 1983
Making his last of nine straight All-Star appearances and his third as a member of the Angels, Lynn got the starting nod in center field for the American League in 1983.
With the AL leading 2-1 heading into the bottom of the third, Lynn stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and smashed the first and only grand slam in All-Star Game history as the AL exploded for seven runs in the inning.
The AL eventually piled on more runs and came away with a 13-3 win and Lynn took home MVP honors for his grand slam.
No. 9: Babe Ruth, 1933
In 1933, the city of Chicago hosted the World's Fair, and local sports columnist Arch Ward suggested that there was no better place and time to display the game's top talent in the first ever MLB All-Star Game.
Ward's brainchild was to only be a one-time event, but it was hugely successful and became a yearly tradition, thanks in part to one Babe Ruth.
At 38 years old, just two years from retirement, Babe Ruth was still the game's biggest draw and the man everyone wanted to see. He did not disappoint.
In the third inning, Ruth did what everyone in the stadium wanted him to, taking a Bill Hallahan offering deep for a two-run home run, giving the AL a 3-2 lead, as they would go on to win 4-2.
No. 8: Cal Ripken Jr., 2001
Ripken was putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career when he was elected to the All-Star Game in 2001, the last season of his storied career and his 19th consecutive All-Star appearance.
Despite a less than impressive line of .240 BA, 4 HR, 28 RBI line in the first half, Ripken was voted in as the AL's starting third baseman.
He wouldn't start the game at third, however, as Alex Rodriguez switched positions with him to start the game, allowing Ripken to play one last All-Star Game at his original shortstop position.
Had it ended there, this would still have been one of the All-Star Game's most memorable moments.
Ripken was far from done though.
Leading off the third inning, with the game still scoreless, Ripken hit the first pitch he saw over the left field wall, making him the oldest player ever to hit a home run in the All-Star Game. The solo blast earned him MVP honors, as the AL prevailed 4-1, and Ripken had one last shining moment on the national stage.
No. 7: Reggie Jackson, 1971
Every year, fans marvel at the tremendous power of sluggers as they put on a show in the Home Run Derby. However, there may be no more prolific All-Star break home run than the towering shot hit by Reggie Jackson in 1971.
Jackson, then a member of the Oakland Athletics, stepped up to the plate in the third inning as a pinch hitter.
Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis tried to blow a high fastball by Jackson and failed. Jackson absolutely crushed the ball, with modest estimates placing the shot at 520 feet.
Many believe it would have traveled in excess of 540 feet had it not slammed off a light tower on the roof of Tiger Stadium that stood some 100 feet above field level and 380 feet from home plate.
No. 6: Pete Rose, 1970
Call it great hustle, call it a dirty play, call it what you want—it is one of the top moments in All-Star Game history.
With the game knotted at 4-4 in the bottom of the 12th, and Rose standing on second base, Jim Hickman singled up the middle and Rose decided to push it.
Center fielder Amos Otis made a great throw to catcher Ray Fosse, who blocked the plate well as Rose looked to be dead in the water. However, a violent collision ensued, and Rose jarred the ball loose and gave the NL the walk-off win.
Fosse had a dislocated shoulder and was never the same player again. As unfortunate as that was, the collision is still one of the images that will forever be remembered about the All-Star Game.
No. 5: Ted Williams, 1941
The 1941 season was a great one for the baseball record books, with Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio fighting it out for the AL MVP.
Williams entered the break hitting .405 and would finish the season at .406, marking the last time anyone topped the .400 mark. DiMaggio, not to be outdone, entered the break with a 48-game hitting streak on his way to his record 56 straight games.
With the two hitting three and four in the AL lineup, the AL still trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
After DiMaggio reached on a fielder's choice, Williams stepped into the box with two outs and stole the show, hitting a three-run walk-off home run to give the AL the victory.
"Halfway down to first, seeing the ball going out, I stopped running and started leaping,“ Williams said. “I was so happy I laughed out loud.“
No. 4: Stan Musial, 1955
With the American League leading by a 5-0 margin after six innings, the National League slowly mounted a comeback.
A pair of runs in the seventh were followed by three more in the eighth, setting up just the second extra innings All-Star Game.
After the 10th and 11th innings went by without scoring, Musial led off the bottom of the 12th and promptly launched the game-winning walk-off home run, giving the NL a 6-5 comeback win.
No. 3: Pedro Martinez, 1999
The 1999 All-Star Game was one of the most memorable in the history of the Midsummer Classic, with one of the best pregame celebrations you will ever see.
A bevy of past and present stars came together in Boston for the event, with the highlight being an appearance from aging Red Sox legend Ted Williams, and it was only fitting that another BoSox player would steal the show once the game started.
Pedro Martinez got the start for the AL, and he struck out the side in the first inning, setting down Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa. After fanning Mark McGwire to start the second, he was one punchout away from tying Carl Hubbell's All-Star Game record.
Matt Williams broke up the streak, reaching on an error, but Martinez was quickly out of the inning, striking out Jeff Bagwell and catching the stealing Williams to end the second.
The two dominant innings were enough to secure the MVP for Pedro in front of the hometown fans, as he showed why he was so impressive during the regular season.
No. 2: Ted Williams, 1946
In his first season back after serving three years in the military, Ted Williams didn't miss a beat, and he showed everyone just how good he was during the All-Star Game.
Williams finished the game 4-for-4 with two HRs, five RBI, and four runs scored, as he set numerous records during the game, and the AL ran away with a 14-3 win.
However, the game is most remembered for the showdown between Williams and Rip Sewell in the eighth inning.
Sewell possessed the game's best eephus ball, a high arching pitch that drops lazily into the strike zone and is rarely hit hard.
Williams asked Sewell before the game if he would throw that pitch in a game like this, and Sewell promised to throw it to Williams if he faced him.
Sure enough, the two matched up, with Williams shaking his head no as he stepped into the box, and Sewell nodding in disagreement. After Sewell made Williams look bad on an eephus and then surprised him with a fastball, Williams drove the next eephus he saw into the stands for his second home run of the game.
No. 1: Carl Hubbell, 1934
When you have 253 career victories and are in the Hall of Fame, but you are most remembered for your performance in an exhibition game, that speaks volumes to what an impressive performance it was.
Enter Carl Hubbell.
In 1934, coming off a season in which he won 23 games and took home NL MVP, Hubbell was the starting pitcher for the NL in the All-Star Game.
Hubbell, who featured a devastating screwball, had the dubious honor of facing an absolutely stacked AL lineup, but he was more than up to the task.
Starting with the legendary Babe Ruth, Hubbell would strike out five consecutive future Hall of Famers, with Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin following Ruth on the long walk back to the dugout.
Despite the fact that it was just an All-Star Game, this is judged by some as the most dominant pitching performance in baseball history, and at the very least gets my nod as the most impressive performance in All-Star Game history.