MLB All Star Game 2011: A Video Timeline Through the Midsummer Classic
Every baseball fan has a special memory from the Midsummer Classic. Those memories can include a young rookie making his All-Star Game debut or an aging star playing in his last.
The memory can be a home run, or in recent generations, a home run derby.
The defensive-minded fans may remember a great inning or two their favorite pitcher hurled in which he struck out the side. Some fans simply enjoy the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the game itself.
Whatever your All-Star memory is, it belongs to you and like a lot of great sports moments or memories, you will never forget where you were when you watched it.
Maybe you were fortunate enough to attend an All-Star Game, having a beer and a hot dog with your favorite family member or friend. Maybe you were sitting in the only room of the house that was cooled by the window-unit air conditioner, watching as a 10-year-old kid.
I would even be willing to bet that your memory of an MLB All-Star Game is not complete with which league won or lost, and that is what makes this event so special—the fact that what is important is the baseball itself, the stars on the field and not who wins.
The game is about your heroes, or now, your kids’ heroes.
Hopefully, everyone that is playing is doing it for the love of the game. If you are an adult, the All-Star Game is a time to remember when you were a kid and if you’re a kid, well, you’re dreaming about playing in the game one day yourself.
Leading up to the Midsummer Classic, you probably saw many lists about the greatest players and games in All-Star history.
Since MLB does its level best not to leave any fan or team out of this game, my list will try to do the same. So, if you have a few extra minutes before the first pitch tonight, sit back and enjoy some of the great moments in All-Star history.
Before We Begin, a Bit of History Courtesy of the Baseball Almanac
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
From the Baseball Almanac:
Baseball has always been more than just a game. As John S. Bowman and Joel Zoss stated in The Pictorial History of Baseball "As part of the fabric of American culture, baseball is the common social ground between strangers, a world of possibilities and of chance, where 'it's never over till it's over.'" It is an American tradition rich in legends, folklore and history, a never-ending story where every game is a new nine-inning chapter and every player has the chance to be the hero.
Through the years, every franchise has had its share of superstar players that stand out above the rest. They are the ones that bring the fans out to the ballpark and only one game brings them all together at once, The All-Star Game.
The first Major League All-Star Game was played on July 6, 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. It was initiated at the insistence of Arch Ward, a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune, to coincide with the celebration of Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition. For over seventy-three years, the "Midsummer Classic" has remained a fan favorite showcasing the top talent in baseball.
All-Star teams were originally selected by the managers and the fans for the 1933 and 1934 games. From 1935 through 1946, managers selected the entire team for each league. From 1947 to 1957, fans chose the team's starters and the manager chose the pitchers and the remaining players. From 1958 through 1969, managers, players, and coaches made the All-Star Team selections. In 1970, the vote again returned to the fans for the selection of the starters for each team and remains there today.
1933: Fittingly, Babe Ruth Hits First All-Star Game Home Run
The first All-Star Game was played on July 6, 1933, at Chicago's Comiskey Park. The first All-Star Game was held as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago and was the idea of Arch Ward, who was a sports editor for The Chicago Tribune.
Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one. Ward's contribution was recognized by Major League Baseball in 1962 with the creation of the "Arch Ward Trophy," given to the All-Star Game's most valuable player each year.
In 2002, the award was changed to honor Ted Williams.
While I will try to keep these slides as brief as possible, the first of anything must include more information than normal, so here are some facts about the game.
Two legendary bench generals skippered the two leagues in the first game. Connie Mack managed the American League. Mack's 50-year tenure as Philadelphia Athletics manager is the most ever for a coach or manager with the same team in North American professional sports.
John McGraw, who had retired midway through the 1932 season as manager of the New York Giants, managed the National League.
The 1933 All-Star Game featured some of the greatest players to ever step into a batter’s box or walk onto a pitcher’s mound. Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Babe Ruth were all in uniform that day.
"We wanted to see the Babe," said Bill Hallahan, the National League starter. "Sure, he was old and had a big waistline, but that didn't make any difference. We were on the same field as Babe Ruth."
Babe Ruth would not disappoint his fellow players or the fans. After a leadoff walk by Detroit Tigers second baseman Charlie Gehringer to start the bottom of the third inning, Ruth came to the plate to face the author of the above quote, Wild Bill Hallahan.
Ruth smacked a Hallahan pitch to deep right field staking the American League to a 3-0 lead. The home run by the Sultan of Swat would turn out to be the game-winning hit as the American League held on to beat the National League 4-2.
According to the Baseball Almanac stats of the game, the first run batted in was by the AL's starting pitcher Lefty Gomez, who singled in Jimmie Dykes during the second inning.
The first stolen base went to Charlie Gehringer and Lefty Grove would have recorded a save as he closed out the game for the AL, pitching three scoreless innings. He allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out three.
The game ended when Grove struck out Brooklyn Dodgers infielder Tony Cuccinello. The game was deemed a huge success and, barring a few interrupted years for war, would return 81 more times throughout the next nine decades.
1934: Carl Hubbell Strikes out Five Future Hall of Famers
The 1934 All-Star Game is one of those games where the outcome paled in comparison to an All-Star's performance.
New York Giants ace Carl Hubbell would steal the show before the hometown fans at the Polo Grounds in the second Midsummer Classic.
Although Hubbell was shaky to start the game, allowing a single to Charlie Gehringer and then walking Heinie Manush, he certainly settled down to face the next five batters.
The next five were no ordinary Joes of the time. With two on and none out, Hubbell was staring at a trio of players that combined to hit 1,734 career home runs with 6,348 career RBI.
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx were headed to the plate but Hubbell suddenly relaxed on his familiar mound and never blinked.
King Carl or Meal Ticket Hubbell, who won 254 career games, reached back with his perfect screwball and mowed down The Sultan of Swat, the Iron Horse and Double X.
According to the video that accompanies this slide, Hubbell wanted only to strike out the Bambino.
However, all three were left frustrated and sent back to the dugout stranding both runners. The following inning, Hubbell picked up where he left off as he struck out the next two batters he faced. They also happened to be future Hall Of Famers.
The White Sox’ Al Simmons and player-manager Joe Cronin would fall victim to Hubbell. The strikeout of five future Hall of Famers is considered one the greatest moments in All-Star Game history. In fact, many baseball old-timers consider Hubbell's five strikeouts one of the greatest moments in all of baseball's history.
Hubbell's team lost the game 9-7 to the AL, as earlier strikeout victim Al Simmons went 3-for-5 with three runs scored. The second All-Star Game would be Babe Ruth's last.
Cardinal’s second baseman Frankie Frisch became the first NL player to homer in an All-Star Game but this game and the special moment from it belong to Hubbell.
1935: Double X Keeps AL Streak Alive
The 1935 All-Star Game, which was held at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, saw a crowd of 69,831 fill the ball-yard, setting an All-Star Game record that stood until 1981, when more than 72,000 attended the 52nd All-Star Game in the same park.
This game was the "Jimmie Foxx Show" and he did not wait long to raise the curtain. Foxx homered in the first inning off Cardinals righty Bill Walker, staking the AL to an early two-run lead that they would never relinquish.
The final score was 4-1, as the American League defeated the senior circuit for the third consecutive year.
The two-out shot by Foxx scored Lou Gehrig, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Although not awarded back in 1935, the MVP of the game would have gone to Foxx who was 2-for-3, with three RBI and one run scored.
Through the first three All-Star Games, the AL's top player was Al Simmons of the White Sox.
Simmons, a 1953 inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was 6-for-13 (.462) with three runs scored and one RBI. The '35 game would be his last All-Star appearance.
Gehrig, a Triple Crown winner in 1934, was hitless in nine at-bats through three All-Star Games.
1936: Nerves Get the Best of Young Joe D, Dean and Hubbell Lead NL to First Win
After three consecutive losses to the American League, the National League finally wins its first All-Star Game. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The American League had won the previous three games by a combined score of 20-10 with their big bats.
Although the NL scored seven runs in the '34 loss, pitching was their backbone. In gaining their first league win in the Midsummer Classic, pitching would again prove to be the key for the NL. Contrasting aces Dizzy Dean from the St. Louis Cardinals and 1934 All-Star hero Carl Hubbell both took the mound as a hard-throwing combo that combined to win 50 games together that year.
Dean earned the victory, working the first three innings and did not allow a hit or a run. Then Hubbell pitched the next three and gave up only two hits and no runs.
Offensively for the NL, Cubs second baseman Billy Herman was 2-for-3, with a one run scored.
The game marked the debut of an American League rookie who would go on to great things in baseball. A rookie starting in All-Star Games during that era was without precedent.
However, this 21-year-old New York Yankee had earned it, batting .354 with 11 HRs and 62 RBI at the break. Unfortunately, the All-Star Game debut of Joe DiMaggio was one to forget.
Joe D committed two major errors, hit into a double play, went 0-for-5 at the plate and fittingly popped out to end the game.
After setting a record in attendance the year before in Cleveland, the '36 classic was witnessed by the smallest crowd to ever attend an All-Star Game. The newspaper stories had assured Bostonians that the game was a sellout, when in fact, the attendance was only 25,556 with 15,000 seats remaining empty.
1937: The Beginning of the End for Dizzy
The fourth installment of the All-Star Game was played at Griffith Stadium in our nation's capital. President Franklin Roosevelt attended the game and watched, as the AL would find their bats after a one-year hiatus.
Dizzy Dean and Carl Hubbell would again start one and two for the NL stars. However, the success they experienced during the year could not be found in Washington D.C. The year before, the two combined to pitch six innings allowing just two hits and no runs.
This year, Dean threw three unimpressive innings and Hubbell lasted just two thirds of an inning. Their combined line was 3.2 innings, with seven hits, five runs (all earned), two walks and two strikeouts.
The biggest story of this game was an innocuous-looking play resulting in an infield-out that ended the bottom of the third inning. Cleveland Indians outfielder Earl Averill hit a low, hard line drive that hit Dean directly on the foot.
The ball ricocheted off Dean’s foot to second baseman Charlie Gehringer, who then made the putout. Dean, who was now finished with his scheduled three-inning stint, headed for the clubhouse. In every sport, management hates All-Star and exhibition games. The reason is that the players risk injury while essentially playing for nothing.
The St. Louis Cardinals were one of those clubs that had that fear realized. It was revealed that Dean broke a toe on his foot because of the line drive. However, the Cardinals and Dean considered it a minor injury and Dean returned to the mound before the toe was healed.
The injury affected Dean’s delivery, causing him to injure his arm. He never recovered and as a result, Dean would never be the same again. He would go on to pitch for three more seasons but he never won more than seven games.
Ultimately, Dean would leave the game in 1941 at the age of 31. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953 with 150 career wins.
The game itself was won by the AL who thumped the NL by a score of 8-3. Lou Gehrig, who was hitless in his first nine All-Star plate appearances, had now homered in two straight All-Star Games and was the offensive hero in '37.
Gehrig was 2-for-4 with a HR, 2B and four RBI.
1938 Classic Is the Last for the Iron Horse as NL Earns Second Victory
The 1938 All-Star Game was the last for The Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig. Held at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Reds fans were rewarded with a start from one of their own, southpaw Johnny Vander Meer.
Vander Meer, who lost more games than he won in his major league career, earned his start as he is best known for throwing back-to-back no-hitters just three weeks before the All-Star Game.
He pulled the feat on June 11, 1938 against the Boston Bees and then again four days later versus the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Of the 271 no-hitters tossed in MLB history, Vander Meer is the only pitcher to throw them in consecutive starts.
For the most part, the '38 game was uneventful. The NL, behind the strong pitching of Vander Meer, Bill Lee and Mace Brown, held the powerful AL lineup to just one run on seven hits. The four errors committed by the AL during the game were the most committed by them in the 20th century.
The memorable play of the game was a seventh-inning home run. OK, it was not exactly your classic home run and it wasn't scored a home run. The play was far from All-Star quality and involved three future Hall of Famers.
With the Reds' Frank McCormick on first after hitting a single, Leo Durocher was in a sacrifice situation and laid down a bunt towards third baseman Jimmie Foxx. Foxx picked up the bunt and threw it into right field. Joe DiMaggio picked that up and threw it over home plate, allowing Durocher to score a bunted home run.
1941: The Most Dramatic Home Run in All-Star History
The previous two All-Star Games were split between the American and National League. The AL won the '39 Classic 3-1, behind a lineup that featured six Yankees playing the entire game in the "House That Ruth Built.”
The 1940 affair was held at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis and saw the first shutout in All-Star Game history. Five NL pitchers combined to hold the powerful AL lineup to just three hits in the 4-0 victory.
The 1940 game also saw the debut of Ted Williams. Although the player that many consider the greatest hitter to ever live did not contribute in his first appearance, he would make up for it in 1941.
Williams, who would finish the '41 season with a .406 batting average, was hitting .405 at the break. With a double and an RBI already in the game, Williams would hit what many considered the most dramatic home run in All-Star history.
Heading into their final at-bat, the AL trailed the NL by a score of 5-3.
The Cubs' Claude Passeau was on the hill trying to finish the AL off and retired the first batter he faced. He then surrendered back-to-back singles to pinch-hitter Ken Keltner and second baseman Joe Gordon. He then issued a walk to Cecil Travis.
This loaded the bases for Joe DiMaggio with Williams on deck. However, DiMaggio hit what appeared to be a game-ending double-play ball. Fortunately for the AL, the throw from second baseman Billy Herman was wide and DiMaggio was safe, setting the stage for history and Williams.
With the AL now trailing by just one run (Keltner scored on the DiMaggio force), Williams launched the fourth pitch from Passeau, a 2-1 fastball, into the Detroit sky. The ball eventually landed into the upper right field stands of Briggs Stadium and the AL, who trailed by three to start the ninth, could now celebrate a 7-5 victory thanks to Williams’ dramatics.
The black-and-white video of a lanky Williams galloping around the bases following his picture-perfect shot will forever be etched in every baseball fans' memory.
1942-1945: The War Years and the Midsummer Classsic
The country was not much in the mood for baseball by the time that the 10th All-Star Game rolled around in 1942. Pearl Harbor was just seven months removed and baseball was beginning to lose its talent as the luxuries of life were now being put into perspective.
Military enlistment and the draft had not yet begun the serious depletion of big league teams that would take place over the next several years. However, enough players had entered the service to warrant a game July 6 in Cleveland between the winning All-Star team and the Service All-Stars, with proceeds going to the Army-Navy relief fund.
Along with Rudy York, the big names of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio would help lead the AL to victory before heading off to war. The AL win was their seventh in 10 games.
1943 saw the first classic played at night. The big memory from this game was the fact that not one New York Yankee played in the entire game, the only time this occurred during the 20th century. The reason was American League and Yankee manager Joe McCarthy was publicly accused of being partial to his own players when it came to selecting starters for the All-Star Game.
Even with most of the big names off to war, the '43 contest would again see the AL prevail. However, the name DiMaggio still played a part for one of the teams. Joe's brother, Vince, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was 3-for-3 as a substitute in center field for the National League.
The 1944 game was not much of a game. The NL won 7-1 behind the pitching of Pirates 20-game winner Rip Sewell. The Pirates righty was famous for his "eephus" pitch. The eephus pitch was lobbed from Sewell's hand on a high arc. With amazing control, Sewell would arc the ball and drop it right over the plate.
The 1945 game was canceled due to wartime travel restrictions and as a result, Major League Baseball decided to play eight simultaneous interleague games. Therefore, 1945—not 1997—was the first time MLB introduced play between the two leagues.
Games were scheduled between the National and American Leagues to help raise money for the American Red Cross and war relief efforts.
These games included the New Yankees vs. the Giants at the Polo Grounds, the Chicago Cubs vs. the White Sox at Comiskey Park, the Cincinnati Reds vs. the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland Stadium, the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Browns at Sportsman's Park, the Philadelphia Athletics vs. the Phillies at Shibe Park, the Detroit Tigers vs. the Pirates at Forbes Field (which ended up being cancelled) and the Boston Braves vs. the Red Sox at Fenway.
1946: Ted Williams Is Splendid for the Hometown Fans of Boston
The game and its stars returned in the 1946 Classic which was played at Fenway Park in Boston. One of the most notable of those stars would set or tie five All-Star Game records to the delight of the hometown crowd. Ted Williams, who returned home from WWII as a fighter pilot, would go 4-for-4 with two home runs, four runs scored and five RBI.
During WWII, Williams could have received an easy assignment and played baseball for the Navy; instead, the Splendid Splinter joined the V-5 program to become a naval aviator. After extensive training, Williams received his wings and commission in the U.S. Marine Corps on May 2, 1944.
He would go onto to fly 39 combat missions in the Korean War with several of them as wingman for squadron mate John Glenn. On just his third mission, Williams was shot down and was lucky to escape with his life. However, he was back up and flying less than 24 hours later.
With the stress of the war long behind him for now, Williams, who had already homered once in the game, came to bat for the last time in the bottom of the eighth inning. As Williams was known to do, he gave the many fans in attendance another life-long memory that these games are known to produce.
Many in attendance and media alike were anxious for Williams to face 21-game winner and "eephus" pitch master Rip Sewell. The matchup between Williams and Sewell had everyone on their feet.
The question that begged to be answered was, could Williams hit the soft high-lobbing eephus pitch from Sewell?
Williams struggled with the pitch at first, as Sewell did not back down and fed the Red Sox legend a steady stream of the looping pitch during his at bat. Eventually, as he always did with every other pitch and pitcher he faced, Williams timed the ball perfectly and smacked it into the right field bullpen of his home park.
The AL used just three pitchers in the 12-0 rout of the senior circuit. Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser and Jack Kramer combined to allow just three hits, with 10 strikeouts while walking just one.
1949; Jackie Robinson, Roy Camapnella, Don Newcombe and Larry Doby Play
After winning the seven of the previous nine All-Star Games, the American League headed into the 1949 Classic looking for their fourth straight victory.
The '49 affair was as historic in nature as any All-Star Game played to date. This historic game marked the first time that black players were selected for an All-Star Game. Appropriately, the game was held at Ebbets Field, where Jackie Robinson had become the first black player in Major League Baseball just two years earlier.
Along with Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe joined him on the NL squad and Cleveland center fielder Larry Doby suited up for the American League.
While Robinson, Campy, Newcombe and Doby were the real story of the game, Joe DiMaggio stole the show. DiMaggio, who had yet to have an MVP-like performance in All-Star play, was the game’s best player.
Many fans felt DiMaggio did not deserve to be in the All-Star Game that year because he was battling a heel injury and had not played since June 28. Nonetheless, DiMaggio was picked as a reserve by AL and Indians skipper Lou Boudreau and then placed in the starting lineup when Tommy Henrich injured his knee.
The move paid off as DiMaggio went 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Joe's brother Dom also participated in the 49 game and together, the DiMaggio brothers were a combined 4-for-9, with four RBI and three runs scored.
The AL extended their unbeaten streak to four in a row with an 11-7 win over the NL stars. Jackie Robinson was 1-for-4 with three runs scored, teammate Roy Campanella was 0-for-2 and unfortunately, the losing pitcher turned out to be none other than Don Newcombe.
Newcombe went just 2.2, allowing three hits and two earned runs. Larry Doby was 0-for-1 for the victorious AL All-Stars.
1950: Finally, the National League Produces the Dramatics That Win a Game
The American League believed it was by far the superior league headed into the 1950 All-Star Game. After winning 12 of the 16 All-Star Games and the previous three World Series, who could argue?
The NL's mission was to stop their four-game All-Star losing streak and start a streak of their own. That would not be easy, as the 1950 Classic would require ninth-inning heroics and 14 innings to decide the winner.
The AL's chance of extending their streak took a huge hit when Ted Williams caught a long drive hit by Ralph Kiner and slammed his elbow against the wall during the catch. Williams remained in the game until the ninth inning, and went 1-for-4 driving in a run. However, the next morning he was still feeling pain and an X-ray revealed a fractured elbow that put him on the disabled list until the end of the 1950 season.
Unlike the 1949 game, the 1950 contest would turn out to be a pitcher’s duel. Three AL hurlers went the first nine innings allowing just three runs on six hits. Four NL pitchers would be needed for the first nine innings but for the last of them, Larry Jansen pitched into the 11th inning, giving up just one hit in his five innings of work.
With the AL ahead 3-2 in the top of the ninth, Ralph Kiner led off for the NL and hit a long home run, tying the score.
The game would last five more innings before Red Schoendienst, who entered the game defensively in the 11th, would lead off the 14th with a home run to give the NL a 4-3 advantage. The Reds' Ewell Blackwell, who came on after Jansen in the 12th, retired two DiMaggios and Ferris Fain to pick up the win for the NL.
This represented the first time in 17 All-Star Games that extra innings were needed to decide a winner. The '50 Classic, played at Comiskey Park in Chicago, marked the first time the National League won a Midsummer Classic while playing in an American League ballpark.
1954: Junior Curcuit Ends Four-Year Drought with Win in Record-Setting Game
After winning 12 of the first 16 All-Star Games the AL entered the '54 Classic as losers of four straight. However, new talented players began to infiltrate the roster cards on both sides in the mid-1950s.
Names like Mantle, Berra and Snider now replaced lineup slots on scorecards that used to have Williams, DiMaggio and other greats penciled in. The 54-game was an instant classic as it tied or set records for home runs by both teams (six), homers by one team (four, American League), runs by both teams (20), hits by both teams (31) and hits by one team (17, American League).
Making its second appearance at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, the '54 game was only the second Midsummer Classic to date with more than 60,000 fans in attendance. The first occurred during the 1935 All-Star Game, which was also held at Municipal Stadium.
To the delight of the hometown crowd, Indians center fielder Al Rosen smacked a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. Rosen's HR was immediately followed up with another, this one hit by former Indians shortstop, Ray Boone.
However, the four-run lead did not last long as the NL All-Stars scored five times in the top half of the fourth. The NL sent nine batters to the plate and scored those five runs on six hits.
The game continued to seesaw back and forth, and now, headed into the eighth inning, the National League led 9-8. The stage was now set for some more hometown heroics, this time from Indians center fielder Larry Doby.
Doby entered the game as a pinch-hitter and with one out, hit the game-tying home run. After the crowd settled, the Yankees' Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra both followed with base hits. Al Rosen was walked to load the bases and the NL changed pitchers; Carl Erskine came in to replace Gene Conley.
Conley struck out Mickey Vernon but surrendered a single to Nellie Fox allowing Mantle and Berra to score the eventual game-winning runs. The AL's Virgil Trucks became the 13th pitcher used by both sides as he pitched a scoreless ninth and the AL held onto win 11-9, ending their four-game losing streak.
1955: Stan the Man Is Front and Center
Ironically, this game was played on July 12, the day on which funeral services were held for Arch Ward, the Chicago Tribune sports editor who had founded the game in 1933.
Behind a massive 400-foot home run from Mickey Mantle, the AL stars jumped out to an early 4-0 first-inning lead. They led, 5-0 through six innings, but watched as the National League began a late and heart-breaking comeback.
The NL scored five times in two innings to tie the game behind the hitting of players like Willie Mays and Ted Kluszewski.
In the ninth, pitchers Frank Sullivan (AL) and Joe Nuxhall (NL) matched strikeouts as the All-Star Game went into extra innings for only the second time.
Leading off for the NL in the bottom of the 12th was Stan Musial and he wasted no time in ending the game by hitting a first pitch fastball) out of the park.
The home run blast was Musial's fourth in All-Star Games, breaking a tie with Ted Williams and Ralph Kiner. Once again, the National League had snatched the lead from the American League and never looked back.
1956: Boyer Shines Brightest but Stars Don't Disappoint
The National League pounded out 11 hits, including home runs by Willie Mays and Stan Musial, to win for the sixth time in seven games.
The game's hero was St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer, who finished 3-for-5, drove in a run, scored a run and made three truly spectacular fielding plays during the game.
Future Hall of Famers left their marks on the 1956 Midsummer Classic. Aside from Mays and Musial, hitting long-balls for the National League, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams countered with blasts for the American League.
As much as the day belonged to Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer, it eluded Yankees and AL skipper Casey Stengel just as much.
Stengel, who led the Yankees to five World Series titles in the past seven seasons, was just 1-5 in All-Star Games up to this point in his career.
The game was played at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. and with only 28,843 fans, drew the second-lowest attendance figure in All-Star Game history.
With wins in seven of the previous eight All-Star Games, the NL had now closed the gap to just three games behind the AL in terms of victories. After 23 games, the midsummer series now stood at 13-10 in favor of the American League.
1959-1962: Double Trouble for the American League
The All-Star Game, a midsummer fixture since 1933, became a double feature in 1959. Two games were scheduled to help give the players' pension fund a boost. The double-header format would last until 1962 when in essence, fans and players became bored with the format.
Prior to playing two All-Star Games per season, the American League held a 16-10 advantage in terms of wins. In 1957 and again in 1958, the junior circuit had prevailed, giving Casey Stengel, who was 1-5 in the Classic, a modest two-game winning streak.
However, the NL would go on to win seven of the eight double-header All-Star Games that would be played over the next four seasons. The wins left the AL leading by just one victory (17-16) headed back into the single game per year format in 1963.
In a year that featured the M&M boys' ( Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris) chase to Babe Ruth and 61 home runs, the 1961 campaign was perhaps the most interesting of the four two-game All-Star formats. Despite two years of mixed reactions from the fans, the league decided to maintain the double-header format, splitting the games between two of the most popular ballparks, Candlestick and Fenway Park.
At Candlestick, the National League maintained a 3-1 lead into the top of the ninth only to have the American League tie the score as Candlestick's trademark winds began to kick up.
In the top of the 10th, the American League took a 4-3 lead, but the National League came back against the knuckleball master Hoyt Wilhelm. Hank Aaron singled, went to second on a passed ball and tied it on Willie Mays' double. Then, Wilhelm hit Frank Robinson, putting runners at first and second. Pirates legend Roberto Clemente singled to right, scoring Mays with the winning run.
Unlike the first game, the second one showcased some classic pitching as the National League only managed five hits and the American League four. The American League scored right off the bat on Rocky Colavito's first-inning homer and later in the sixth, the National League matched them after Eddie Mathews walked and was batted in by Bill White.
Unfortunately, this game never reached a decision as it was called after nine innings because of a downpour. It was the first—and until 2002, the only—Midsummer Classic to end in a tie.
While 1962 left little in the way of drama in the outcome of both games, it was the first time the game awarded a Most Valuable Player Award.
The spectacular performance by Maury Wills during Game 1, who only entered the game during the sixth inning as a pinch-runner, earned himself the first-ever All-Star Most Valuable Player Award. In just three innings, Wills got a hit, stole a base and scored two runs.
Again, the game was played in our nation's capital and, for just the second time, was attended by a U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was quoted saying to Stan Musial, "A couple years ago they told me I was too young to be president and you were too old to be playing baseball. But we fooled them."
1963: The Say Hey Kid Steals the Show
After four years, the league had finally decided to return to the original single-game format and to say that the National League was about to embark on total dominance of the American in the Midsummer Classic would be a drastic understatement.
Following the American League’s victory in the second game of the 1962 All-Star double-header series, the National League would win 22 of the next 25 games.
The NL would win the first of eight straight in 1963 when the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, played perhaps the best all-around game in All-Star history. Mays was the first to win the game’s MVP Award with a unanimous vote.
Although the AL outhit the NL 11-6 in the game, "The Willie Mays Show" made up for the difference in offense. Despite having just one hit, Mays drove in two runs, scored two and stole two bases. He also made the defensive play of the game—a running catch that deprived Joe Pepitone of extra bases in the eighth.
This game also marked the 24th and final appearance of Stan Musial, who pinch-hit in the fifth. He lined out to right, leaving behind an All-Star log of 20 hits in 63 at-bats for a .317 average. He also hit six home runs, an All-Star Game record.
1967: Home Runs and History for This Extra-Long Affair
How great was the pitching in the Major Leagues during the late 1960s? Consider these numbers about the 1967 All-Star Game, which the National League won in 15 innings:
Twelve pitchers from both sides combined to strikeout 30 All-Stars. Names like Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Oliva started for the AL. Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron and Orlando Cepeda were starters on the National League side.
The dozen pitchers used included names such as Juan Marichal, Fergie Jenkins and Bob Gibson for the NL, and Al Downing and Catfish Hunter for the AL were simply overpowering. The AL allowed no walks in 51 NL plate appearances and the senior-circuit pitchers allowed just two four-ball passes in 49 official AL at-bats.
The National League struck first when Phillies third baseman Richie Allen crushed a Dean Chance breaking ball over the right-center field wall. AL pitchers stood strong until another third baseman, Brooks Robinson, hit a Fergie Jenkins pitch over the left field wall tying the game for the American League in the sixth inning.
The game would remain tied for the length of another baseball game—nine innings. Finally, All-Star Game MVP Tony Perez connected on a Catfish Hunter fastball. The ball flew over the left-center field wall, putting the NL ahead to stay at 2-1.
Tom Seaver would come on to to finish off the AL in the bottom half of the 15th, securing the win.
Aside from being the longest All-Star Game ever played to date, the '67 Classic was the first game in which the long-ball was the only method of scoring for both teams. The three home runs accounted for all of the scoring.
It is worth noting that all three home runs were hit by third baseman.
1968: Pitching Remains Dominant in All-Star Play
The 1968 Midsummer Classic represented a new era of baseball as it was the first All-Star game ever to be played in an indoor arena on artificial turf. The 41st installment of baseball’s All-Star Classic was played in what many considered the “eighth wonder of the world,” the Houston Astrodome.
Older, more traditional fans disapproved of the league's selection and felt that it ruined the feel of the Midsummer Classic. The playing surface, lack of weather and overall environment of playing indoors mattered little to the pitching of both teams.
Major league pitching simply continued to dominate major league hitting in the latter portion of the 1960s.
Willie Mays, who led off the bottom of the first with a single off Luis Tiant, scored the only run of the contest. The only run of the game scored by Mays produced the only 1-0 result in the history of the All-Star Game to this very day.
What makes the feat seem more improbable is how Mays manufactured the lone run with the help of AL starting pitcher, Luis Tiant.
A pickoff attempt by Tiant got past first baseman Harmon Killebrew, allowing Mays to move to second. Things went from bad to worse for El Tiante, who delivered a wild pitch to Curt Flood, moving Mays to third. With runners on first and third and still none out, Tiant got Willie McCovey to ground into a double play, which allowed Mays to score.
The closest the American League came to scoring was in the seventh inning. Tony Oliva hit a Tom Seaver fastball off the left field fence that just missed being a home run. He settled for a double and the American League eventually settled for its sixth straight loss.
Willie Mays earned the second All-Star Game MVP award of his career.
While pitching was dominant on both sides, five NL hurlers held the AL to just three hits. Seaver, who allowed two of the three AL hits, struck out five batters. NL righty Juan Marichal pitched two perfect innings while lefty Steve Carlton tossed one. Nine of the game's pitchers did not allow a single walk.
1970: Pete Rose and the Incorrect Legend of Ray Fosse
The American league looked destined to finally break out of their All-Star losing streak. Losers in 12 of the last 13 games and mired in a seven game losing streak, the junior circuit led the 1970 Midsummer’s classic by three runs headed into the bottom of ninth at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati Ohio.
Then from nowhere the National leaguers began to knock the immortal Jim "Catfish" Hunter around the park. Giant’s catcher Dick Dietz led the inning off with a homer run followed by singles from by Bud Harrelson and Joe Morgan.
This led A.L skipper Earl Weaver, to replace Hunter with Yankees lefty Fritz Peterson. The great Willie McCovey, who won the All-Star game MVP award the year before, greeted Peterson with a single. The hit by McCovey scored Harrelson and pulled the N.L to within one run.
Weaver then went back to his bullpen to get the righty-on-righty match-up with Roberto Clemente and summoned another Yankee, Mel Stottlemyre, in hopes of getting the final two outs.
Stottlemyre did indeed get Clemente out but on a line out to center-field, which was deep enough to score Joe Morgan from third base tying the game at four.
The game would remain tied headed into the bottom of the 12th inning.
After ground outs by Joe Torre and Roberto Clemente, baseballs eventual hit king--Pete Rose, would begin a two out rally with a single to center field. Billy Grabarkewitz followed the Rose single with one of his own, as Jim Hickman connected off Clyde Wright for a third straight hit setting the stage for the most dramatic home plate collision in baseball history.
With Charlie Hustle rounding third, Amos Otis threw home to the awaiting Ray Fosse, who stood blocking the plate while awaiting Roses' arrival. Rose barreled into Fosse, separating his shoulder and scoring the winning run. The play, which Rose was widely criticized for, gave the N.L their 13th win in the last 14 games.
The injury Fosse suffered is often incorrectly cited as what caused the downfall of his career. In fact, Fosse played 42 games in the second half of 1970, hitting .297 and winning the American League Gold Glove Award.
Fosse would go onto to play in 631 more regular season games and 22 post-season ones. In 1973 for the A's, he played in 143 games, the most of his career, on a team that had three twenty game winning pitchers (Ken Holtzman, Vida Blue, and Jim "Catfish" Hunter). Oakland won the American League Western Division pennant, and then defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the 1973 American League Championship Series. Fosse made his mark in the series, throwing out five would-be base stealer's. The Athletics went on to win the 1973 World Series against the New York Mets.
Carl Yastrzemski of the A.L, who tied an All-Star game record with four hits, became the second player to win the MVP award on the losing team. Brooks Robinson was first in 1966.
1971: Reggie Jackson's Towering Home Run Highlights First AL Win in Nine Years
After a Johnny Bench two-run home run in the top of the second inning, the AL appeared headed for more of the same losing they had suffered in the past eight straight All-Star Games.
The score would eventually become 3-0 after Hank Aaron added a solo home run in the top of the third before the American League would come alive and come back to take a lead in the Midsummer Classic for the first time since 1964.
With Dock Ellis in the game pitching for the senior circuit, Luis Aparicio led off the bottom of the third with a single to center field. Next up was the pitcher's spot, which AL skipper Earl Weaver decided was a good spot to insert Oakland A's outfielder Reggie Jackson into.
Jackson did not disappoint Weaver, his teammates or the fans, especially those in attendance at Tigers Stadium in Detroit on that July evening. Reggie Jackson hit what amounted to a 520-foot home run as only the light tower on the roof of the right field stands prevented the ball from going farther.
As far as the ball traveled, it was still only worth two runs, as the AL still trailed by one but that was about to change. Following the Jackson home run, Rod Carew walked and after getting Bobby Murcer and Carl Yastrzemski to pop out, Dock Ellis faced Orioles slugger Frank Robinson.
Like Jackson, Robinson also did not disappoint his manager, and the eventual MVP of the '71 Classic hit a two-run home run, as the AL took the lead and never looked back. The home run hit by Frank Robinson made him the first player to hit All-Star home runs from both leagues.
Frank was the second O's player and "Robinson" in five years to bring the All-Star Game MVP Award back to Baltimore. Brooks Robinson had won the award in a losing effort in 1966.
Following the game, Frank Robinson was quoted as saying, "I don't see why you reporters keep confusing Brooks and me. Can't you see that we wear different numbers."
Harmon Killebrew would also add a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth, adding insurance and closing out the scoring for the victorious junior circuit.
The win ended the eight-year losing streak by the American League and gave Earl Weaver his first and only win as an All-Star manager in four games ('70, '71, '72 and '80). The game also produced 20 future Hall of Fame players.
1983: Fred Lynn Hits Only Grand Slam in All-Star Game History
The American League won the first, 25th and wanted very badly to win the 50th Anniversary All-Star Game. Although the game was 50 years old, there had been 53 games actually played during the 50 years.
Held at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the AL had enough of the losing and crushed the NL by a score of 13-3.
The frustration of having lost 19 of the last 20 All-Star Games and 11 in a row was obvious throughout the 50th installment of the Midsummer Classic—especially after falling behind 1-0 on two errors after only the first half inning of play. AL starter Dave Steib and first baseman Rod Carew committed the errors that allowed Steve Sax to score the first run of the game.
The AL would tie the game after manufacturing a run in the bottom half of the first but from there on out, the junior circuit hammered the senior circuit into submission. The AL sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third, scoring seven runs on six hits.
SF Giants hurler Atlee Hammaker was charged with all seven runs. He also allowed the first grand slam in All-Star history to Angels outfielder Fred Lynn.
Lynn worked Hammaker to a 2-2 count before crushing a fastball over the right-center field wall for the slam. National League manager Whitey Herzog had ordered Robin Yount, the preceding batter, walked intentionally, which turned out not to be a good idea.
"I take it personally," Lynn said later. By '83, Lynn had four home runs and 10 runs batted in with 20 All-Star at-bats. Only Ted Williams had a higher All-Star RBI count, with 12 in 46 at-bats. Stan Musial had 10 runs batted in, but in 63 at-bats. Lynn's four homers tied him with Williams for the American League lead. The loss left the National League shell-shocked.
During the third inning, the American League set All-Star Game records for hits during a single inning (they had six) and runs scored during a single inning (they had seven).
The names playing the game began to change, as baseball’s new era was starting to take over. Names such as Jackson, Yastrzemski and Bench were relegated to just that, as each was in the process of finishing off their careers. The '83 Classic was the last for Yaz as Cal Ripken, Ricky Henderson, Steve Saxma and Ozzie Smith were starting to become mainstays in the All-Star Game play.
1984: Pitching Is Again Dominant for the National League
Following the beat down of the '83 game in Chicago, the NL regrouped, and brought 22-year-old Fernando Valenzuela and 19-year-old Dwight Gooden to the '84 Classic, which was played in San Francisco at Candlestick Park.
Valenzuela—or El Toro, meaning the bull in Spanish—and Gooden—or Dr. K—ran right through the AL lineup as each pitched two innings. After Charlie Lea started for the NL, Valenzuela and Gooden followed with record-setting performances. El Toro started things off in the top of the third and after allowing back-to-back singles, he induced Rod Carew into a double play and got Cal Ripken to ground out ending the inning.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lefty pitched two innings and allowed just two hits while walking none. He was also a part of history, which he started in the top of the fourth.
In the top of the fourth, Valenzuela would pitch his second inning and strike out three future Hall of Famers. Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and George Brett, who was caught looking at the third strike to end the inning, were all victims of the 1981 NL CY Young and Rookie of the Year Award winner.
Following Valenzuela on the mound and continuing to make history for the NL was the Mets' young rookie sensation, Doc Gooden. When Gooden took the mound in the 54th All-Star Game, he became the youngest player to ever do so in the Midsummer Classic, a record that still stands.
Two year later in 1986, Gooden became the youngest starting pitcher in an All-Star Game, at 21 years, seven months and 30 days.
Despite his youth and inexperience, Gooden proved he belonged by also striking out the side. Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon and Alvin Davis were all victims of the hard-throwing right-hander, whose fastball was clocked at 98 mph during the game.
Gooden’s final line in the box score read: two innings, one hit, no walks and three strikeouts. Not bad for a 19-year-old, fresh out of high school who spent just one season in the minors. Both pitchers’ combined performance of six consecutive strikeouts broke an All-Star Game record (Carl Hubbell striking out five in 1934).
Not to be outdone, Athletics pitcher Bill Caudill, who entered the game in the bottom of the seventh for the AL, also struck out the side. He set down, in order: Tim Raines, Ryan Sandberg and Keith Hernandez.
There were 54 All-Star Games to date and only four times in its history had a pitcher struck out the entire side. This year, Fernando Valenzuela, Dwight Gooden and Bill Caudill all accomplished the feat.
The National League scored in the first as Steve Garvey singled and went to second when—surprise-, surprise—Reggie Jackson misplayed the ball.
Dale Murphy followed with a single to left and Garvey headed for home, bowling over Lance Parrish at the plate for a 1-0 lead. George Brett provided the only AL scoring as he homered to tie the game in the top of the second.
The National League went ahead again on Gary Carter's homer in the bottom of the inning. After that, it was all pitching, as the National League prevailed 3-1 for their 26th win in the last 31 All-Star contests. Carter's clutch go-ahead HR earned him All-Star Game MVP honors.
1985: The First Home Run Derby
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Excerpts taken from the Baseball Almanac:
Prior to the 1985 All-Star Game being played, a new tradition was born when Major League Baseball adopted an official format for a Home Run Derby. Though these types of contests had taken place before, this was the first time it was going to be acknowledged by the League.
From 1985 through 1990, the Home Run Derby was structured as a two-inning event with each participant getting five outs per inning. Since 1991, eight to 10 players were chosen to participate in a three-round contest to determine the Home Run Derby Champion. Each player received 10 outs per round as they attempted to hit as many home runs as they could.
The top four, regardless of their league affiliation, have advanced to the second round. If a tie existed among players for advancement into Round 2, the player with the most regular-season home runs at the All-Star break advanced. The second tiebreaker, if necessary, is distance of longest home run in Round 1.
The 2005 Derby was the first "we are the world" long-ball contest. It featured eight sluggers from eight different countries, paying homage to the 2006 World Baseball Classic—the first international baseball tournament which will include major league players from the 25-man rosters of each major league team.
The very first Home Run Derby Champion was the Cobra, Dave Parker. The contest was held at the Homer Dome, A.K.A, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Parker belted six dingers to take first place. Twins fan favorite, Tom Brunansky finished second, along with five other sluggers who all hit four.
The man who finished last with just one dinger that night was none other than Cal Ripken Jr.
The All-Star Game itself was once again dominated by NL Stars as their pitching held the AL to just one run. The Senior Circuit scored six runs, all scattered. The MVP of the game was NL starter Lamar Hoyt.
Hoyt became just the fourth pitcher in All-Star history to win the MVP award. The previous three had also hailed from the NL side as well.
1989: The Bo Jackson Show, Co-Starring Nolan Ryan
Bo Jackson's performance in the 1989 All-Star Game has to be considered one of the greatest All-Star performances in the history of professional sports. Especially when you consider the hype and anticipation surrounding Jackson’s first All-Star Game appearance.
Many wanted to see if the man that "simply knew,” could be as good as advertised.
NL starting pitcher Rick Reuschel found out in a hurry, as did the rest of the sports world, that Bo knew how to play baseball. In his first All-Star at-bat and leading off the game in the bottom of the first for the AL, Jackson simply crushed Reuschel’s fastball an estimated 450 feet over the right-center field wall for a home run.
"When the ball hit the bat," said National League manager Tommy Lasorda, "it sounded like he hit a golf ball."
Hitting out of the 5:00 shadows in California can very difficult for even the most experienced hitters. During twilight hours in Anaheim Stadium, the ball leaves the pitcher's hand in the sun and travels through the shade to home plate.
During pregame ceremonies, AL manager Tony LaRussa was asked why Bo Jackson was leading off and LaRussa replied, "Bo, at the top gives us a chance to get started quickly. We can put some pressure on the other team right away."
I guess LaRussa knew too, as Bo continued to apply pressure and not just at the plate. Aside from his offensive exploits, he raced from left field to left-center to catch a Pedro Guerrero liner with two runners in scoring position and two out in the National League's first inning to kill a rally.
Bo was 2-for-4 with two RBI and one stolen base. The game's obvious MVP choice was everything everyone expected and Jackson provided a much-needed lift to a game that many fans felt was becoming boring and lopsided.
The A's Dave Stewart pitched the first inning and was followed by the ageless wonder, Nolan Ryan. Ryan pitched two innings, allowed one hit, striking out three and allowing no runs in his final All-Star Game outing.
The victory made Ryan the oldest winning All-Star pitcher in Midsummer Classic history.
One of the game's oldest and one of the game's brightest young stars led the American League to their first back-to-back All-Star Game victories since 1957-1958.
1994: The Montreal Expos Are Front and Center in Pittsburgh
The National League headed into the '94 Midsummer Classic looking to break a losing streak of six games to the AL. This extra-inning, nail-biting affair is considered one of the best All-Star Games ever played.
There were five lead changes, which included a game-tying home run in the ninth inning and a surprising victory for the National League in the 10th.
Surprisingly, two of the American League's finest pitchers, David Cone and Lee Smith, turned in poor performances. Cone, who was 12-4 at the break with the Kansas City Royals, gave up three runs in the third and threw 40 pitches in two innings.
Smith, who had 29 saves closing out games for the Orioles at the break, blew a two-run ninth inning lead by giving up a game-tying homer in a 28-pitch inning of work.
Three unlikely players from a franchise that was seemingly headed in the right direction before August's players strike stole the show in Pittsburgh.
The Montreal Expos' Ken Hill, Marquis Grissom and Moises Alou played pivotal roles in the NL's come-from-behind win. Hill pitched two scoreless innings and was the only NL pitcher to not allow a hit in the contest.
Grissom staked the National League to a 5-4 lead with a sixth-inning homer, and Alou delivered the game-winning double in the 10th. However, before Alou could deliver the game-winner in the 10th, the game’s MVP, Fred McGriff, entered the game as pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth.
With Grissom aboard after drawing a walk, McGriff battled Smith by fouling off several pitches before finally hitting the game-tying home run.
The All-Star Game turned out to be the highlight of the '94 season. On August 12, the players went on strike, which subsequently led to the cancellation of the rest of the season, including the World Series.
1997: Alomar Jr. Thrills the Hometown Faithful
The city of Cleveland would play host to the classic for the sixth time in the game's history. Just as Al Rosen did in 1954 when he smacked a three-run HR for the hometown Indian fans as a member of the Tribe, Sandy Alomar Jr. hit an equally thrilling two-run shot that proved the game-winner in the '97 contest.
Just as they did in 1995, National League hitters managed only three hits off eight American League pitchers. AL manager Joe Torre started by using a lethal dose of flame-throwing lefty Randy Johnson for two innings and then replaced him with an equally intimidating righty in Roger Clemens for one inning.
Torre then went with off speed master David Cone and four more pitchers for an inning apiece until Mariano Rivera closed out the NL, earning the first of his record-setting four saves in All-Star Game appearances.
The '97 game was one of the first where American League fans could select a designated hitter. Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners was chosen as that player and he would not disappoint. The Mariners DH hit a home run in the second inning as the AL squad led until Atlanta's Javier Lopez tied the game in the top half of the seventh.
Lopez became the 11th player to homer in his first All-Star Game at-bat.
The game did not stay tied long as Alomar Jr. connected off Shawn Estes for the late-game hometown heroics. The HR earned Alomar the game’s MVP honors, as the American League was about to embark on a winning streak similar to the one the NL enjoyed during the '60s and '70s.
The most memorable moment happened when Larry Walker stepped up to the plate versus Randy Johnson. As Johnson did with lefty John Kruk in 1993 in Baltimore, he sailed the first pitch high over Walker's head. Walker, who throws right but hits from the left side, stepped out, turned his helmet around, then stepped back up to the plate right-handed and took a strike.
Unlike Kruk, who struck out and looked like a fool doing so, Walker hung in and forced a walk.
1998: Baseball Is Reborn, or Is It?
Depending what side of the steroid fence you sit on, the 1998 All-Star Game, which was played at Coors Field in Denver, was a game that you either loved or hated.
The '98 season was considered one of the best in baseball history, as it was also considered the year of the home run. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both set new standards by breaking the all-time single-season home run record, which is considered by many the most revered record in all of sports.
However, the names of who admitted to or got caught using steroids are long and distinguished from both the AL and the NL clubs.
From the AL, Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez have all been linked to the juice. On the NL side, McGwire and Sosa headline a list that includes, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Kevin Brown.
The game itself did not disappoint in terms of the long ball and runs scored. The game featured three home runs and a record 21 combined runs as the American League beat the National League 13-8.
The American League had home runs from Seattle's Alex Rodriguez and Baltimore's Roberto Alomar. The AL also set a new All-Star Game record by stealing five bases off NL catchers, Mike Piazza and Javy Lopez.
The long ball did not elude the NL squad or the game of baseball’s eventual all-time HR champion, and like it or not, his name is Barry Bonds.
In the fifth inning, Bonds connected on a three-run shot that temporarily put the NL squad ahead 6-5. Game MVP Roberto Alomar kept the trophy in the family by winning the honor just one year after his brother Sandy did so in Cleveland.
Alomar had three hits, homered once, stole a base and was responsible for starting the sixth-inning rally that eventually led to the AL squad taking the lead for good.
Much can be debated about the steroid era in baseball. Do these players deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Should there be an asterisk next to their records and numbers? Were they cheaters? These are just a few issues that are debated heavily amongst everyone.
However, one thing that can't be debated is the that the late 1990s and early 2000s were very exciting times in baseball and some that allowed the game to experience a growth spurt it may not have had coming off the '94-95 players strike that led to the cancellation of the '94 season, including the World Series.
None of the growth that baseball experienced in such a short period of time would have been possible had it not been for the home run and the players that did whatever they had to do to hit them.
I am not condoning the use of steroids in baseball but if baseball did not mind their use back then, well, neither do I.
1999: Red Sox Nation Owns the Night
Fenway Park in Boston is considered one of the greatest ballparks in the history of sports. Major League Baseball's decision to host the final All-Star Game of the 20th century there was a perfect choice and as always, Red Sox Nation did not disappoint.
The 1999 Midsummer Classic is probably more known for the pregame ceremony than the game itself.
In 1999, the Major League Baseball All-Century Team was chosen by popular vote of fans. To select the team, a panel of experts first compiled a list of the 100 greatest players from the past century. Fans then voted on the players using paper and online ballots.
The top two vote-getters from each position, except outfielders (nine), and the top six pitchers were placed on the team. Prior to the All-Star Game in Boston, the nominees were introduced and preceding Game 2 of the 1999 World Series, the members of the All-Century Team were revealed. Every living player named to the team attended.
The nominees were announced and took their spots around the infield from first to third base. Those legends that were able and alive attended—legends like Harmon Killebrew, Joe Morgan, Ernie Banks, Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Bob Feller and Warren Spahn.
The PA announcer then introduced two players who were responsible for some of the greatest baseball memories in Red Sox history: Carl Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk. The crowd went crazy as the two Red Sox walked out to the field.
The PA announcer then booms through Fenway's loudspeakers, "Ladies, gentleman and children. It is an honor and a privilege to introduce one of the greatest players to ever grace the field at Fenway Park and any other ballpark. Ladies and gentleman, the great Hall of Famer, Ted Williams."
A golf cart emerges from beneath the center field stands. Sitting in one seat is Williams, the Splendid Splinter, No. 9, perhaps the greatest hitter ever, one of the city's most beloved athletes.
Williams was quite an All-Star himself and lived up to his reputation of being the greatest hitter alive in All-Star play. In 18 All-Star contests, against some of the best pitching that ever threw a baseball, Williams batted .304 with four HRs and 12 RBI. He also scored 12 runs with a .439 on-base percentage and managed to get a hit to every base, as he doubled twice and tripled once.
The Splendid Splinter was 80 years old and not doing well. In fact, Williams would pass away almost exactly three years later but he was sharp as a tack on this night. Considered by many to be the greatest hitter of all time, the last man to hit .400, the man with a .344 lifetime average and two Triple Crowns, was finally at peace on the field at Fenway Park.
Williams had a sour and antagonistic relationship with the fans and media in Boston. Aside from his personal accomplishments, he never led the Sox to more than just one American League pennant in his entire career.
However, this night wasn't about any of the bad times; wounds heal as time passes and this night belonged Williams, Red Sox fans and eventually Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez.
When the game started, Martinez, took center stage. He entered the game with 182 strikeouts, and needed only 17 pitches to record three more, as the National League's Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa struck out consecutively to start the game.
In the top of the second, Martinez continued to sit down NL hitters with the strikeout as Mark McGwire became his next victim. Martinez needed just one more strikeout and he would match the famous feat of Carl Hubbell in the 1934 Classic (Hubbell struck out five future Hall of Famers consecutively; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin all fell victim to Hubbell).
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, as Matt Williams ended the streak by reaching base on an error by Roberto Alomar.
Martinez shook off the Alomar error and quickly jumped ahead of Jeff Bagwell with two strikes.
The NL sensed that Martinez was on his game and when Bagwell worked the count full, Williams took off for second base hoping his fellow NL star could connect and start a rally.
The plan did not work out as well as hoped. Bagwell failed to make contact and Ivan Rodriguez threw out Williams, completing the strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play to end the inning.
The effort by Martinez (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO) earned him the game’s MVP honors as Rafael Palmeiro, Cal Ripken, Roberto Alomar and Jim Thome all had an RBI in the AL's 4-1 win.
The win by Martinez was the first ever during an All-Star Game by an American League starting pitcher in his own hometown park.
2001: Baseball Says Goodbye to Ripken
Cal Ripken played as much of an integral part in baseball's rebirth following the '94 players strike as Mark McGwire and the home run ball did. TV Guide once put Ripken on its cover in 1996 and hailed him as the "The Man Who Saved Baseball.”
Ripken had become a huge star across the league during his career and watched as his popularity took on new heights after breaking Lou Gehrig's ironman streak of 2,131 consecutive games played in 1996.
The 2001 Midsummer Classic was played at Safeco Field in Seattle and belonged to the ironman. Ripken had announced his impending retirement earlier in the season and was greeted by standing ovations as grateful baseball fans all over the country thanked him repeatedly with honors in every ballpark that he played in.
Ripken, who was voted into the game as a third baseman, took the hot corner upon jogging onto the field for his final All-Star appearance. However, everyone in attendance and watching at home knew history was in the making. Alex Rodriguez suggested and then insisted to Ripken that he move over and play the position that created the legend. Cal reluctantly agreed to the delight of baseball fans everywhere.
Ripken must have had butterflies as he came to the plate during the third inning with the theme from The Natural playing in the background. The fans gave Cal one of the longest standing ovations ever bestowed on an All-Star player and he tipped his batting helmet in appreciation.
Ripken always had a knack for hitting a home run on special occasions. He did so when he tied and broke Gehrig's record and would do it again at Safeco Field facing Chan Ho Park. Ripken did not wait long as he jumped on the first pitch from Park and drilled it over the left field wall.
The American league simply needed to hold on to win so that Ripken could be handed the MVP Award. Leading only 3-2 after a fifth-inning RBI single, the American League put the game away with three runs in the ninth.
Ripken would indeed become the first AL player and fourth overall to win two All-Star Game MVP awards; his first was in 1991 in Toronto. Cal also became the oldest player to hit a home run during the Midsummer Classic.
Yankees boss Joe Torre joined Tony LaRussa and Tommy Lasorda as the only managers to win their first three All-Star Games.
With Ripken's departure, baseball was truly beginning its traditional turnaround. Baseball will always have an "out with the old and in with the new" mentality. Just ask Derek Jeter.
By 2001, baseball was indeed a worldwide sport played very competitively at an early age all over the world. Between the two benches, the 72nd Classic had 22 first-time All-Stars, eight rookies and players from seven different countries.
2002: Not Bud Selig's Best Moment
Prior to the start of the 73rd All-Star Game, which was played in Commissioner Bud Selig's hometown stadium of Miller Park in Milwaukee, MLB honored the 30 greatest moments in baseball history and the men that participated in them.
The festivities were great and the game itself was just as entertaining. Both teams combined to use all 60 players, who belted out 14 runs on 25 hits in 90 official at bats.
However, for the second time in All-Star history, and after three hours and 29 minutes, the contest ended with no winner. The '02 Midsummer Classic would end in a tie.
Although there was no winner, the game was certainly entertaining. Twins outfield Torii Hunter raised the curtain so to speak when he robbed Barry Bonds of a sure home run.
With two outs in the first, Bonds launched a long drive to deep right-center field. Hunter glided into the gap, timed his leap, reached far over the fence, with his elbow well above the eight-foot wall and pulled the ball back into the park.
Bonds, who had 594 career home runs, and the fans could hardly believe that he had been robbed of another shot. Bonds made sure there would be no more larcenous catches in the third inning, when he blew a 3-0 Roy Halladay pitch into the right field stands.
It was not easy to get to this decision and occurred only after the NL somehow managed to blow a 5-2 lead. The AL scored four runs in the top of the seventh but the NL was again in position to win when Lance Berkman, who was leading the majors with 29 HRs and 81 RBI, hit a two-out, two-run single off Kazuhiro Sasaki in the bottom of the inning that rallied the NL to a 7-6 lead.
Refusing to go quietly, the AL fired back in the top of the eighth when Omar Vizquel, making a rare appearance at second base because the American League had five shortstops on its roster, tied it at seven with a RBI-triple off Giants closer Robb Nen.
The three-bagger scored Robert Fick after he singled to start the inning. Fick's run would be the last time either team touched home plate.
Following the AL's turn at bat in the top of the 11th, managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly huddled with Bud Selig to discuss what to do next.
It was decided that since all of the players had been used and as a matter of protecting the final two pitchers, Vicente Padilla and Freddie Garcia, each having worked two innings, if the NL squad failed to score in the bottom of the inning, the game would end in a tie.
Although it was the only decision that could have been made, it was not very popular for many reasons. Besides the obvious of having no winner, there was no Most Valuable Player picked, meaning the MVP trophy, which was renamed to honor Ted Williams following his death the Friday before the game, would be embarrassingly left vacant.
The black eye for baseball would get worse over the coming weeks and months. Alleged steroid abuse and reports of star players having used the performance-enhancing drug to break records was starting to surface. This, on top of another impending players strike over revenue sharing, only threatened to make baseball a laughing stock in professional sports.
Luckily for baseball the strike was avoided but baseball certainly would have been better off had they finished the 2002 All-Star Game.
Said Selig following the game:
"Nobody wanted to play more than I did, but I have to balance the concerns and hopes of the fans against the welfare of the players and the game. And every so often you get caught in a really difficult and sensitive situation. This is why they have a commissioner, because somebody has to make those decisions."
2006: The Beat Goes on for the American League
Baseball was beginning to make another comeback as the 2006 All-Star Game came during what many called one of the most exciting and unpredictable seasons in recent memory.
Following the international acclaim of the World Baseball Classic, the first leg of the league's marathon included a phenomenal Detroit Tigers team that was running away with the American League Central, the second "un-retirement" of Houston Astros ace Roger Clemens and the highly controversial run by Giants slugger Barry Bonds toward Hank Aaron's home run title.
This also followed the historical curse-breaking year of 2004 when the Boston Red Sox and then the Chicago White Sox both broke their 80-plus-year curses with back-to-back World Series titles. It was as if America had rediscovered its national pastime and the enthusiasm surrounding the 2006 All-Star Game proved that baseball was definitely back.
To add more meaning to the game and following the '02 debacle when the game ended in a tie, baseball changed the Midsummer Classic by giving it more than just an exhibition meaning. Since 2003 and for the first time in professional baseball history, home-field advantage in the World Series would be granted to the winner of the All-Star Game.
With that in mind, the AL squad needed every inning and every out to eek by with their ninth win in 10 games.
The Dodgers Brad Penny started the game for the NL and set the tone for the senior circuit's staff. Penny struck out Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz in the first inning, with nothing but heat. Penny's fastball hit 99 mph on the radar gun but his only mistake cost him dearly in the second inning when Vladimir Guerrero launched a 356-foot opposite-field shot to right field that opened the scoring.
David Wright of the Mets answered Guerrero's blast with a solo home run and after Carlos Beltran scored following a wild pitch by Roy Halladay, the NL appeared headed for victory during the next 6.2 innings.
The American League hitters came alive against closer extraordinaire, Trevor Hoffman of the Padres.
Hoffman, who was 18 saves shy of Lee Smith's all-time saves record (478), quickly retired the first two batters that he faced on ground balls back to the mound. The NL most assuredly could begin to feel the thrill of ending the nine-game losing streak but two-out rallies aren't all that uncommon and the AL proved that even in the All-Star Game, and as Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over, till it’s over."
White Sox slugger Paul Konerko hit the first pitch that he saw, just to the left of NL third baseman Miguel Cabrera, to keep the AL's hopes alive. Troy Glaus followed with a shot that nearly tied the game as he hit a double to deep left field. However, the ball bounced into the bleacher seats and pinch-runner Jose Lopez was forced to stop at third. After getting ahead of Rangers shortstop Michael Young with two quick strikes, Hoffman surrendered a two-run triple that proved to be the NL's death blow.
Mariano Rivera closed out the NL in the ninth but not after some drama that saw the tying run advance to second base. As a result of his clutch hit in the ninth inning, Young was voted the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player while joining Alfonso Soriano (2004) and Julio Franco (1990) as the third Texas Rangers player to be so honored.
The loss dropped the NL record in All-Star Games to 0-9-1 over the last 10, and once again secured home-field advantage for the American League for the fourth consecutive year.
2008: The House That Ruth Built Closes out All-Star Memories
When someone asks you what was the greatest All-Star Game ever played, look that person very confidently in the eyes and say, “It was the 2008 game played at old Yankee stadium."
The Midsummer Classic returned to Yankee Stadium in 2008 for the fourth and final time. Yankee Stadium hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977. It was the first time that a ballpark hosted an All-Star Game in its final year and the eighth All-Star Game to be held in New York; the Polo Grounds hosted the event in 1934 and 1942, Ebbets Field in 1949 and Shea Stadium in 1964.
A historic ballpark deserved a historic game and the 2008 Midsummer Classic did not disappoint. From start to finish, fans witnessed what will go down in history as one of the greatest All-Star Games in Major League history. Pregame events included a red-carpet parade through New York City, a player introduction ceremony where starters took the field at their position flanked by 49 living Hall of Fame players, each lined up at their former position and a Stealth Bomber flyover.
The Home Run Derby the night before set the tone for an All-Star Game that would not soon be forgotten. The Rangers' Josh Hamilton belted out the most memorable round in derby history when he set the all-time derby record for homers in a single round with 28.
The record was set by Bobby Abreu, then of the Phillies and now of the Yankees, in Detroit's Comerica Park back in 2005, when Abreu hit 24 in one round and went on to win the contest. Hamilton had a three-round 35, but it was not enough, as the format of the derby does not allow you to have a running total.
Hamilton, tired and out of gas, was beaten by the Twins' Justin Morneau, who out-homered Hamilton 5-3 in the final round.
The All-Star Game was a record-setter as well, lasting 15 innings and taking a record four hours and 50 minutes to play. Derek Jeter said following the game, "It seemed like the Stadium didn't want it to end. That's what we were talking about. It just wanted baseball to continue and I thought it was fitting."
Every player from both teams played and every pitcher pitched.
The NL took the lead on a Matt Williams homer and increased their lead to 2-0 the next inning when Lance Berkman scored Hanley Ramirez on a sac fly.
Trailing, 2-0, the AL evened the contest in the seventh, facing Edison Volquez in his All-Star Game debut. Red Sox slugger J.D. Drew cracked a two-run homer in his first All-Star Game at-bat, tying the game en route to securing the game's MVP Award.
Being from Boston and receiving the award at Yankee Stadium, Drew was booed when presented with his trophy.
The NL would come back and take the lead during the following half inning only to lose it in the bottom half, as the AL tied the game setting the stage for the 15-inning affair.
HR Derby champion Justin Morneau started the winning rally with a leadoff single against loser Brad Lidge. After Dioner Navarro singled, Drew walked to load the bases bringing Michael Young to the plate.
Young lofted a fly to right and Cory Hart’s throw home took two bounces and was slightly to the first-base side of the plate. Catcher Brian McCann gloved the ball and tried a sweep tag, but Morneau snuck his right foot in, barely ahead of the tag. Plate umpire Darryl Cousins made the safe call, and the AL players left in the dugout rushed out to celebrate.
One footnote: While we often talk about the greatest performances in All-Star history, Dan Uggla conceivably had the worst night in All-Star history. Uggla became a member if the seldom-seen "three-error, three-strikeout" club, with a double-play ball thrown in there as a bonus.
The AL improved to 6-0 since the All-Star Game began determining home-field advantage in the World Series. The AL also ended a losing streak of having never beaten the NL in 10 extra-inning All-Star affairs. The AL had been 0-9-1 in extra innings against its older rival.
Heading into the 2012 game the AL has almost but not yet overcome the big deficit it created when it lost 25 of 28 All-Star games. Currently, the National Leaguers hold a slim three-game lead at 41-38-2.