It’s called the “Mid-Summer Classic” for a reason. The MLB All-Star game, which takes place for the 89th time on Tuesday, July 17 (airing on Fox) has produced some memorable moments over the years. The Home Run Derby, which precedes the All-Star game Monday on ESPN, has also become popular in its own right. But, what transpires in the game itself is what goes down in history and becomes part of baseball’s nostalgia. Here’s a few of those highlights from the modern era of baseball.
Pete Rose is perhaps the hardest player to ever play the game, and the fact that the All-Star game is an exhibition didn’t matter to Rose. With the 1970 All-Star game on his home field in Cincinnati, Rose was headed for home plate to score the winning run in the 12th inning when Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse got his way. Rose plowed him over and Fosse would never be the same, despite a long career. This game is considered one of the best All-Star games ever played.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez put on a show for his home crowd in 1999, striking out five of the six batters he faced, becoming the first pitcher to start an All-Star game with three strikeouts. Perhaps he was inspired after baseball announced its All-Century team, which included Ted Williams who threw out the first pitch, while even the players on the field gazed at him in awe-inspiring fashion. Now that’s nostalgia.
No longer does the All-Star game determine home field advantage for the World Series, but in 2003, when the rule was first put in place, the game took on a more serious nature in Chicago. The National League took a five-run lead after scoring as many runs in the fifth, only to squander it. In the bottom of the eighth, Hank Blalock of the Texas Rangers put the American League ahead for good. The win didn’t help the New York Yankees, who eventually lost the World Series that year to the Florida Marlins.
The next year, in 2004, the game was played in Houston where Roger Clemons, who was then pitching for the Astros would get the starting nod. His catcher was Mike Piazza of the New York Mets; two players who a few seasons earlier had been embroiled in a controversy that carried over into the 2000 World Series. Clemons was embarrassed, giving up six runs in the first inning for the first time ever in his career. We have to ask, was Piazza laughing behind the plate?
These are just a few of the great moments baseball has produced when its best players take the field on the same night. What will happen this year?