9 Most Memorable All-Star Game Moments
The 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game goes down tonight at Chase Field in Phoenix. Most people will probably get tired of Tim McCarver’s nonsensical rambling after 3 innings and flip over to America’s Got Talent. However, I will be watching the whole game, and not just because I can’t stand Sharon Osborn. No, I’ll be watching the whole game because, even though the format is stale and the definition of “star” is pretty loose these days, you still never know when something truly memorable will happen. Sure, I’ll probably be let down when Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers is batting against Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals in the top of the 9th, but a guy can dream, can’t he? So, in honor of tonight’s Midsummer Classic, whatever it holds in store for us, here are 9 of the most memorable moments in the history of the All-Star Game.
9. The Battle of the Mullets in 1993
Menacing lefty Randy Johnson was about 7’15” and threw the ball about 125mph. He was an intimidating foe no matter where his pitches went, but he was especially intimidating when they happened to sail over a batter’s head. Just ask John Kruk.
8. Cal Ripken’s Home Run in 2001
As Bob Costas explains in the video, “[In a totally spontaneous, entirely unscripted moment that happened to be caught on tape by the mic he was wearing,] Alex Rodriguez insisted [Cal Ripken] take his place at shortstop, the position where he’d become a legend.” Of course, you know if A-Rod wasn’t mic’d up, the convo would’ve been more like “hey, they said I have to let you play shortstop, so, like, whatever.” But, hey, at least A-Rod was on the field at all. If it were the bottom of the 4th he would already have been in his Benz on his way to a strip club. Luckily, not even A-Rod could ruin this nice moment from Cal Ripken, Jr., one of baseball’s true class acts.
7. The Babe Hits the First Ever All-Star Game Home Run in 1933
The Great Bambimo’s career was winding down when Major League Baseball introduced the All-Star Game in 1933. But that didn’t stop him from hitting the very first ASG home run off National League pitcher Bill Hallahan in the bottom of the third inning at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. There couldn’t have been a more fitting person to achieve this feat than the Sultan of Swat. Not a bad piece of trivia, either.
6. Reggie’s Bomb in 1971
The 1971 ASG at Tiger Stadium in Detroit featured home runs from five other Hall of Famers, but the most impressive came off the bat of the future “Mr. October,” Reggie Jackson. His monstrous bomb in the bottom of the third was still rising when it hit a light standard above the right-center field roof, 380 feet from home plate. They estimate the ball would have gone about 520 feet if the tower hadn’t gotten in the way.
5. Williams’ Walk-Off Home Run in 1941
Ted Williams had one of the most storied careers in Major League Baseball history; however, he never won a World Series with the cursed Boston Red Sox. That’s probably why Williams, the Splendid Splinter, the last man to hit .400 in a season, has called this walk-off ASG homer one of the finest moments in his career. Of course, it also helps to remember that back in 1941 the All-Star game was important to players and fans alike.
4. Musial’s Walk-Off Home Run in 1955
Stan the Man’s walk-off bomb in 1955 just narrowly beats out William’s walk-off shot in 1941 for three little reasons. First, Stan’s home run came in extra innings, which is just a tad more exciting than William’s 9th inning home run. Second, this is the greatest All-Star Game moment from the man who played in more All-Star Games (24) than anyone else in the history of the game. Third, in addition to being a baseball legend, Musial is by all accounts an exceptional human being, whereas Williams had the reputation of being somewhat of a cur. So, when it’s all said and done, advantage Musial.
3. Carl Hubbell Strikes Out 5 Hall of Famers in a Row
People talk a lot about the dominant performance of Pedro Martinez in the 1999 ASG, when he struck out four consecutive players (Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire) to start the game. But in 1934, in just the second ASG ever played, pitcher Carl Hubbell struck out five consecutive players who later made it to the Hall of Fame, including perhaps the greatest hitter of all time. That’s right, Hubbell struck out none other than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin.
2. Pete Rose Collides With Ray Fosse in 1970
Good old Charlie Hustle never played a baseball game he didn’t try his damnedest to win. Case in point: the 1970 All-Star Game. The NL and AL were knotted up at 4-4 in the bottom on the 12th. Pete Rose of the hometown Cincinnati Reds was on second base when Jim Hickman of the Chicago Cubs smacked a base hit to center field. Rose rounded third and chugged toward home, where he completely flattened catcher Ray Fosse of the Cleveland Indians. Game over, National League wins 5-4. As for Fosse, well, he fractured his shoulder on the play and would never be the same again.
1. Tie Game in 2002
Is this moment of infamy really more memorable than all the others? Well, it’s certainly not the greatest moment—in fact, it is almost certainly the worst moment in the history of the All-Star Game. But the end of the 2002 game is memorable in the sense that more than any actual game highlight in recent years, it represents what the MLB All-Star Game has become: a softball game at a company picnic. Only one or two players take the game seriously, and everybody gets a turn no matter what. And that’s how the game ended in a tie: trying so hard to make sure every player got to play. The managers used up all their pitchers by the 11th inning. But I’ll make a deal with MLB: you let Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, and I’ll remove this moment from the top spot on this list. Deal?