Happy Halloween everyone! Before you head out wearing your Jack Sparrow, Mike Myers, Freddy Krueger or sexy policewoman costumes I wanted to share something that recently popped into my head. For some strange reason the 2001 All Star Game came to mind and I started to think what the best All Star Games of the past were.
The 2001 game was special to a lot of us because it was held here in Seattle. It was Cal Ripken’s final ASG and he did not disappoint. Anyways, here is some fun reading for either before you go out or for when you’re laying in bed, sick from eating too much candy corn and twix.
The Midsummer Classic has been around for years, so of course there have been some great ones.
MLB‘s first All-Star game was back on July 6, 1933 . Now, 78 years later, the Midsummer Classic has brought much discussion about the right way to do it, what is wrong with the way it is, how we can fix it, and what could make it better. What we all can’t forget about is watching some of the greatest players of our own baseball eras play on the same field.
Some of these guys are young guns who are playing with some veterans whom they would imitate when they were kids. Some are old guys who are in the twilight of their careers as they can see the end of the tunnel. Either way, the Midsummer Classic has provided us with some fantastic baseball games and putting together a top five is going to prove no easy task.
5. 2002/2003 All-Star Game
The reason I use two games here is that the result of the 2002 game had a direct effect on the 2003 game. In 2002, the game ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings. Each side had exhausted their bullpens and Bud Selig was forced to call the game a draw. The next year, Selig decided to make the game worth something, home-field advantage in the World Series. So, in 2003, the rosters were expanded to account for any extra innings and Hank Blalock, in his first All-Star game appearance, hit a game-winning homer in the eighth inning off of Eric Gagne, one of the best closers at time.
4. 1941 All-Star Game
Into the bottom of the ninth, the NL held a 5-3 lead, which should be good for a win when you have the best of the best closing the door for you. Well, the AL had another idea. After scoring one run, there were two outs and not a lot of hope. Well, with two men on, Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters of all time, clubbed a three-run homer to give the AL a 7-5 victory. Five years later, Williams would go 4-4 with five RBIs and two HRs in a 12-0 AL victory.
3. 2001 All-Star Game
One of the greatest shortstops in MLB history and the Ironman of baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr. was in the last season of his career. He had announced before the All-Star Game that he was going to retire that season and was selected to the game, at third base. A young Alex Rodriguez was selected at shortstop but switched with Ripken to let him play his native position. Ripken hit a homer in the third inning off of Chan Ho Park and was selected the MVP of the game to cap his incredible career.
2. 1970 All-Star Game
This game is referred by almost every baseball fan who remembers as, “The Collision.” The game was played at Riverfront Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Reds’ All-Star, Pete Rose. In the bottom of the 12th inning with the score tied 4-4, the Chicago Cubs’ Jim Hickman smacked a base hit to center field. Pete Rose, standing on second base, was running hard and rounded third.
The ball beat Rose to home plate, but that wasn’t enough to stop Charlie Hustle. Rose lowered his shoulder and barreled into AL catch, Ray Fosse, sending Fosse flying and causing him to drop the ball. Rose was called safe and Fosse fractured his shoulder on the play. Rose was criticized for the play, but that was just the way he played. He played to win, and by God, if you were in his way of winning, you had better be prepared for the consequences.
1. 1971 All-Star Game
This All-Star Game was special for many reasons, the biggest being a breakdown of the color barrier in baseball. Multiple African Americans were selected to the game and, despite what the choice of baseball and the public may have been, two African Americans faced off on the mound for the first time ever. Vida Blue and Dock Ellis, after some controversy, started the game, with players like Hank Aaron, Rod Carew, Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente. I would say that those guys were pretty good, all Hall of Famers.
The most famous shot of Reggie Jackson’s career, the Moon Shot, was crushed in the third inning off of Ellis and was still rising when it hit a transformer in the roof. Some estimated that shot would have gone more than 520 feet. The AL won the game 6-4, but the game meant more than baseball could have known at the time.
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