The 20 Greatest MLB All-Star Game Moments of All Time

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2014

The 20 Greatest MLB All-Star Game Moments of All Time

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    ANN HEISENFELT/Associated Press

    Baseball's biggest and brightest stars will convene at Minnesota's Target Field July 15 for the 85th All-Star Game, putting their skills on display for all to see on the grandest of stages.

    While all MLB All-Star Games aren't created equal, there's usually at least a moment or two that stays with us long after the exhibition has passed, things that we find ourselves talking about years after the fact.

    Like right now.

    Of course, what sticks out as memorable for one person may pass without notice for the next, so the moments, plays and performances on this—or any similar list—are entirely subjective. What follows are, in my estimation, the 20 greatest moments in All-Star Game history, listed chronologically.

     

    *Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

1933: Ruth Goes Deep for the 1st Time in All-Star Game History

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    The first All-Star Game was supposed to be a one-time affair, held at Chicago's Comiskey Park in tandem with the 1933 World's Fair.

    As he'd done for more than a decade, Babe Ruth played a part in changing the course of baseball history.

    In the bottom of the third inning, with the American League leading 1-0 and Detroit's Charlie Gehringer on first base, the Bambino stepped to the plate and destroyed a pitch from St. Louis' Bill Hallahan, sending the ball screaming into the right field stands for the first home run in All-Star Game history.

    Not only did Ruth's American League squad hold on for a 4-2 victory, but the exhibition was such a rousing success that it soon became a fixture on the baseball calendar.

1934: Carl Hubbell Fans 5 Consecutive Hall of Famers

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    Every All-Star Game features some pretty formidable lineups, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one more formidable than the one the American League sent out to take on New York's Carl Hubbell and the National League in 1934.

    Take a look:

    OrderPlayerTeamPosition
    1.Charlie Gehringer Detroit2B
    2. Heinie Manush WashingtonLF
    3.Babe RuthNew YorkRF
    4.Lou GehrigNew York1B
    5.Jimmie FoxxPhiladelphia3B
    6.Al SimmonsChicagoCF
    7.Joe CroninWashingtonSS
    8.Bill DickeyNew YorkC
    9.Lefty GomezNew YorkP

    Nine players, all of them future members of the Hall of Fame.

    Hubbell struck five of them out—in a row.

    After Gehringer and Manush reached base to start the game, Hubbell sent down Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx in order. He picked up where he left off in the top of the second inning, striking out Simmons and Cronin before allowing a single to Dickey, though he did fan Gomez to end the inning.

    Two innings, six strikeouts. Not a bad day's work.

1941: Ted Williams Hits Game-Winning Home Run

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    Heading into the 1941 All-Star Game, 26-year-old Joe DiMaggio and 21-year-old Ted Williams were engaged in a battle of one-upmanship: DiMaggio was riding a 48-game hitting streak, while Williams was hitting .405 at the break.

    With the American League trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, they waged a fierce rally. DiMaggio reached first base when Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Billy Herman was unable to turn a game-ending double play, scoring Ken Keltner and cutting the deficit to one run.

    Up stepped Williams, who promptly hit a game-winning, three-run homer, giving the American League an improbable 7-5 victory.

    DiMaggio's hitting streak would reach 56 games before coming to an end, a mark that has yet to be topped, while Williams would go on to hit .406, the last man ever to hit .400 or above in the majors.

1949: All-Star Game Color Barrier Broken

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    While Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, it would take another two years before African-American ballplayers were represented in the All-Star Game.

    When the time did finally arrive, it was fittingly a trio of Brooklyn Dodgers—Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe—along with Cleveland's Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, who broke down the barrier in the Dodgers' home, Ebbets Field.

    Campanella and Doby failed to record a hit in three combined at-bats, while Newcombe was roughed up for two earned runs and three hits in 2.2 innings of work. Robinson, however, was instrumental in keeping the National League in the game, going 1-for-4 with a double, a walk and three runs scored.

    The American League would eventually win the game, 11-7, but the day belonged to that foursome.

1955: Stan Musial Hits Game-Winning Home Run in Bottom of 12th

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    Trailing 5-0 heading into the seventh inning of the 1955 All-Star Game at Milwaukee County Stadium, things were looking grim for the National League.

    But the Senior Circuit clawed its way back into the game, putting a pair of runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh and picking up three more in the eighth to tie the game, which dragged on into the 12th inning.

    Making his 10th consecutive All-Star Game appearance (and 12th overall), Stan Musial stepped to the plate to face Boston's Frank Sullivan, who was entering his fourth inning of work.

    Musial, who had gone 0-for-3 with a walk up to that point, drilled a game-winning home run to right field, bringing the Milwaukee crowd to its feet in one of the most exciting All-Star Games in baseball history.

1970: Pete Rose Introduces Himself to Ray Fosse

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    With two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning and the game tied at four, California's Clyde Wright allowed a pair of singles to the National League—first to Cincinnati's Pete Rose, then to Los Angeles' Billy Grabarkewitz.

    Chicago's Jim Hickman was next to the plate, and he followed suit, lacing a single to center field. Rose attempted to score the winning run from second base, but the throw from Kansas City's Amos Otis beat him to the plate.

    That didn't deter Charlie Hustle, however, as he lowered his shoulder and barreled into Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse, dislodging the ball from Fosse's glove—and dislocating Fosse's shoulder—in the process.

    After the game, Rose was unapologetic, per Baseball Almanac, saying: "I just want to get to that plate as quickly as I can. Besides, nobody told me they changed it to girls’ softball between third and home."

1971: Reggie Gets Ahold of 1

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    Before Reggie Jackson was "Mr. October," he was "Mr. Midsummer Classic."

    Inserted into the 1971 All-Star Game as a pinch hitter for American League starter (and his Oakland teammate) Vida Blue in the bottom of the third inning, there was little doubt that Jackson had gone deep when his bat made contact with a pitch from Pittsburgh's Dock Ellis.

    The only question was just how far the ball was going to travel. Jackson's shot went an estimated 520 feet, its momentum only stopped when it crashed into a transformer attached to one of the light towers on the Tiger Stadium roof.

    It still stands as the longest home run in All-Star Game history.

1978: Rod Carew Legs out a Record

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    Few pitchers were able to claim a career of success against Minnesota's Rod Carew, one of the game's premier hitters (and a player who, to this day, continues to be criminally underrated).

    San Francisco's Blue was no exception, having faced Carew for nearly a decade while a member of the Oakland Athletics, with Carew owning a career .355 batting average against him (16-for-45) with a pair of doubles and one triple.

    The two faced off in the 1978 All-Star Game, the first to be held in San Diego, and Carew continued his dominance, stroking a pair of triples off Blue. The first came in the first at-bat of the game, with Carew later scoring on a double by Kansas City's George Brett. He'd strike again in the top of the third, with Brett driving him home yet again, this time on a sacrifice fly.

    No player before—or since—has hit two triples in an All-Star Game.

1979: Dave Parker Fires a Cannon

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    Everyone around baseball knew that Pittsburgh's Dave Parker had one of the best throwing arms around in 1979. Well, almost everyone.

    New York's Graig Nettles stepped to the plate for the American League with two outs and two on in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied 6-6. He laced a single to right field off National League reliever Bruce Sutter, a hit that, under most circumstances, would have broken the tie.

    But as California's Brian Downing headed down the third base line, trying to score from second, Parker unleashed a picture-perfect throw, one that reached National League catcher Gary Carter on the fly. It just beat Downing to the plate, allowing Carter to apply the tag and preserve the tie.

    Were the same scene to unfold today, Downing probably gets credited with a run, as Carter was clearly blocking the plate.

1983: Fred Lynn Is Grand

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    The 1983 All-Star Game marked the 50th anniversary of the first Midsummer Classic, which was fittingly held at the same site—Comiskey Park in Chicago.

    The National League entered the game as the overwhelming favorite, having won 11 consecutive games and 19 of the last 20, but the American League had different plans on this day.

    Holding a narrow 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning, the home team exploded for seven runs, highlighted by the first grand slam in All-Star Game history, hit by California's Fred Lynn, who was making his ninth straight appearance in the exhibition.

1989: Bo Knows All-Star Games

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    Bo Jackson only appeared in one All-Star Game during his eight-year major league career, but the two-sport superstar made sure that he left his mark on the Midsummer Classic while he had the chance.

    With the American League trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the first inning—a deficit that could have been much bigger were it not for Jackson making an excellent running catch in right-center field to stop the Senior Circuit's attack—Bo stepped to the plate to lead things off against San Francisco's Rick Reuschel.

    Facing a 0-2 count, Jackson crushed Reuschel's next pitch deep into the right field stands, cutting the National League's lead in half. As then-Chicago Cubs starter Rick Sutcliffe notes in the video above, the sound of the ball making contact with Jackson's bat is something that you don't easily forget.

    Bo would finish the game 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and a stolen base, taking home MVP honors in the process.

1993: Randy Johnson vs. John Kruk

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    Batters who were comfortable stepping to the plate to face Randy Johnson were few and far between during the Big Unit's 22-year career, but Philadelphia's John Kruk took uncomfortable to an entirely new level in the 1993 All-Star Game.

    After Johnson's first pitch sailed over Kruk's head, the slugger simply refused to get anywhere near the plate. He'd either stand at the very edge of the batter's box (or bail altogether), smiling throughout the at-bat as he gladly accepted a strikeout and retreated to the safety of the dugout.

    Johnson's wink to Kruk after the at-bat only makes the moment that much better.

1997: Randy Johnson vs. Larry Walker

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    As was the case in 1993, Seattle's Johnson toed the rubber against one of the National League's finest left-handed hitters—this time, Colorado's Larry Walker—and sent the first pitch of the at-bat up over his head.

    Unlike Philadelphia's Kruk, who wanted no part of the Big Unit after watching his life flash in front of his eyes, Walker wasn't going down without a fight.

    The slugger calmly flipped his batting helmet around and stepped to the right side of the plate, drawing a raucous cheer from the Jacobs Field crown in Cleveland and eliciting laughs from players and coaches in both dugouts.

    While Walker's foray into batting right-handed only lasted one pitch, he fared far better than Kruk did, drawing a walk.

1999: All-Century Team

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    While the 70th All-Star Game, held in 1999 at Fenway Park, made an appearance in our top 25 for the action during the game, it was the pregame ceremony that truly stands out as one of the great moments in baseball history.

    Many of baseball's living legends were in attendance as MLB announced its All-Century team, but one Hall of Famer's star shined far brighter than anyone else's that night—the one belonging to Ted Williams.

    Whether it was the prolonged standing ovation from everyone in attendance or the way the players crowded around him, hoping for a chance to shake his hand and share a word or two, Williams stole the show.

    It was a fitting tribute to the greatest hitter the game has ever seen.

1999: Pedro Goes Off

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    Pedro Martinez was in the prime of his career when the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park rolled around, as he was leading baseball with 15 wins and a 2.10 ERA while racking up a ridiculous 184 strikeouts in only 132.2 innings of work.

    While he wasn't leading baseball in strikeouts, it was Martinez's ability to make batters swing and miss that put him in rarefied air at the Midsummer Classic.

    Martinez struck out Barry Larkin, Walker and Sammy Sosa in order to start the game, then got Mark McGwire on strikes in the top of the second inning. After Matt Williams reached on an error, Pedro went back to work, striking out Jeff Bagwell with a nasty curveball that American League catcher Ivan Rodriguez promptly fired to second base, nailing a stealing Williams for an inning-ending double play.

    Two innings, five strikeouts. Not quite as impressive as the five consecutive Hall of Fame members that New York's Hubbell sent down in succession in 1934, but impressive nonetheless.

    He'd go on to be named MVP of the game, tying the American League record for All-Star Game strikeouts with five while becoming the first AL pitcher to win the All-Star Game in his home park.

2001: Ripken Homers in Final Appearance

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    Players like Cal Ripken Jr., who possess a combination of class and skill that is unrivaled across all the major sports, don't come around all that often, so it's important to celebrate them while they're active.

    That's exactly what baseball did during the 2001 All-Star Game, Ripken's 19th—and final—appearance in the Midsummer Classic.

    In the top of the first inning, before the first pitch had even been thrown, Texas' Alex Rodriguez, the American League starter at shortstop, walked over to Ripken at third base and insisted that he move back to his natural position of shortstop.

    Ripken put up a fight but ultimately gave in, drawing a raucous ovation from Seattle's Safeco Field crowd.

    Years later, Ripken reflected the scene with Anthony McCarron of the Daily News, saying:

    That was something else. It seemed like I was the only person in the stadium who didn't know what was happening. Alex came over to me and told me that we were going to switch positions and I wanted to tell him what I thought about that in a direct sort of way, but then I remembered that I was wearing a microphone from MLB. I then looked into the dugout and Joe Torre was waving me over.

    I really wasn't comfortable with the move having not taken any ground balls at short for years. Roger Clemens was pitching and I yelled to him to strike everyone out. After a couple of pitches I started to feel comfortable and by the third batter I wanted a ball to be hit to me, unfortunately I didn't get a play and moved back to third the next inning. When it happened, I really was a little uncomfortable because I don't like surprises, but looking back, it was a wonderful tribute by Alex and something that I will always remember.

    He wasn't done bringing the fans to their feet, however, turning on the first pitch that he saw from the Los Dodgers' Chan Ho Park in the bottom of the third inning for a solo home run, giving the American League a 1-0 lead.

    The AL would go on to win the game 4-1, and Ripken was named All-Star MVP for the second time in his career.

    A fitting way for one of the game's all-time greats to go out.

2002: Torii Hunter Robs Barry Bonds

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    The 2002 All-Star Game will always be remembered for the tie that led to MLB doing away with the Midsummer Classic as an exhibition, but lost in the shuffle is perhaps the greatest defensive play in All-Star history.

    Making his first career All-Star appearance, Minnesota's Torii Hunter timed his approach and leapt at the perfect moment, his glove rising well above the wall to rob San Francisco's Barry Bonds of a home run in the bottom of the first inning.

    The image of Bonds tossing Hunter over his shoulder between innings remains one of the iconic All-Star Game photos in baseball history.

2007: Ichiro Hits All-Star Game's 1st Inside-the-Park Home Run

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    We know that San Francisco's AT&T Park has some odd angles and arches in the outfield walls that lend themselves to creating more than a few bad bounces.

    Unfortunately for Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. and the National League, a bad bounce would prove costly during the 2007 All-Star Game,

    With Baltimore's Brian Roberts on first base in a scoreless game, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki stepped to the plate in the top of the fifth inning to face San Diego's Chris Young. Ichiro put a charge into the first pitch he saw, sending the ball into the deepest part of the park in right-center field.

    With the ball heading toward the wall, Junior positioned himself to play the bounce, only to have the ball hit an All-Star banner and take off bouncing toward the right field corner.

    Griffey gave chase, but Ichiro was too fast. By the time Junior had caught up to the ball and fired it to home plate—overthrowing a pair of cutoff men in the process—Ichiro had crossed home plate for the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history.

2010: National League Ends a Miserable Streak

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    Baseball is a game of streaks—some good, some bad.

    Few were as miserable as the one the National League was riding heading into the 2010 All-Star Game at Angel Stadium. It had been 13 years since the Senior Circuit emerged victorious, a streak that included one tie (in 2002). Trailing 1-0 heading into the seventh inning, it appeared as if the streak would continue.

    But the National League put two runners on against New York's Phil Hughes and another against Chicago's Matt Thornton, loading the bases for Atlanta catcher Brian McCann. He'd lace the second pitch that he saw into right field for a bases-clearing double, giving the National League a 3-1 lead.

    That's all the offense it needed to put an end to its losing streak.

2013: Prince Fielder Turns on the Jets

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    Words like agile, fast and quick don't normally come to mind when talking about hulking slugger Prince Fielder, but there was nothing normal about his first career All-Star Game triple in 2013.

    Leading off the top of the ninth inning, Fielder stepped into the box to face Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli. The National League employed a defensive shift, expecting him to pull the ball to right field, which is exactly what he did.

    But the ball wasn't hit all that hard, and it dropped just in front of a diving Carlos Gomez, bouncing toward the right field wall with nobody to stop it.

    Second baseman Matt Carpenter gave chase and retrieved the ball, but Fielder slid, just beating the throw to third base, garnering cheers from New York's Citi Field crowd and players in both dugouts.