Monday, June 20, 2011

MLB asks for the top All-Star game moments, but one is missing is asking fans to vote, tournament style, for the top moment in All-Star Game history. As meaningless as the game is (despite the home-field-advantage wrinkle established as a knee-jerk reaction to the tie a few years ago), to me, it's still a fantastic Mid-Summer Classic.

When I was a kid, I used to look forward to that July Tuesday every year. I remember distinctly staying up at a sleepover until extra innings during the summer of 1987, waiting for the lone Tribesman, Pat Tabler, to come up to bat. Not sure we all were awake for that, but yes, he struck out.

1997 All-Star Game logo.Image via Wikipedia
Looking over the list, there certainly were some great ones. Tony Gwynn's slide into home for the winning run in 1994 was particularly exciting. But by that time, the strike was looming, and the fact that the Indians had awoken from their slumber was overshadowed by the dark cloud of labor strife that was not over the horizon any more, it was almost directly overhead.

My vote, naturally, would for the only All-Star Game I've ever been to in person.  I was lucky enough to get tickets to the 1997 All-Star Game through Ticketmaster over the phone. (Also landed 1994 Opening Day tickets that way too--something that basically never happens now...) We scalped second row tickets for the home run contest the day before for peanuts, and sat right behind someone sporting a giant 1996 World Series championship Yankee ring.  (If you ever think about buying tickets for those HR derby days, don't spend a lot of money--it is incredibly boring.)

A couple great ancilary memories from the two days:

-One "target" during the home run contest was on the facing of the upper deck in right field.  Not even steroid-laden Brady Anderson, who peppered them all over the mezzanine that year, could dream of hitting that one.

-During batting practice, I got my one and only baseball at the stadium.  Ken Griffey Jr. hit it, and Chuck Knoblauch tossed it to me.  Still have it to this day.

David I. Andersen / The Plain Dealer
-Larry Walker turned his helmet around and batted righty for a bit after one pitch vs. the Big Unit, who had fired the first one about 120 mph over his head to the backstop. Although it was all in fun, I'm pretty sure Ell Dubs soiled himself a bit.

-At the Fan Fest, I collected all of the Larry Doby commemorative cards.  And I literally have planned on a cool framing of them for going on 14 years now.  Still have them, still haven't framed them.

And finally, the moment that made the night magical. Sandy Alomar Jr., one of several Indians reserves on the team that year, came up against Shawn Estes in the seventh innning. 1-1 tie in the seventh, Cal Ripken Jr. on base, and the crowd roaring for Sandy. (There is an ancient archived article on about the game, but, alas, I couldn't find video anywhere.)

When Sandy deposited the two-run homer into the stands, all I remember is the roars of "M-V-P" over and over for well into the next batter's turn.  I still have photographs I took that night of Sandy holding the trophy he indeed earned.  And I still have his MVP autograph on that ball I got that night.

A classic for sure.  Hometown hero winning the game.  But in the tournament, it doesn't even get a nod in the Sweet Sixteen of All-Star Game moments?


Oh well, I'll leave with my second favorite one.  1989. Bo knows baseball. The commercial was epic, his performance sublime.