What’s usually so great about All-Star Games is they’re a platform for the game’s biggest stars to let loose, have some fun, and play the sport without a care in the world. It’s during these times that the fans are usually treated to the most entertaining form of ball. However, baseball is different. The winning league of the Midsummer Classic is gifted home-field advantage for the year’s World Series. The idea behind this to make the game more competitive. However, all that’s really happened is the fun has been sucked out of the event. Yet, we have a strange feeling that after the 2105 display of long-ball legitimacy, the city of Cincinnati may be able to help keep the good times rolling.
It wasn’t too long ago that Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game played host to some pretty incredible events. Standing ovations and displays of power. Final farewells and the perfect curtain calls. This game was born for the stuff of legend. Here’s to hoping that the 2015 contest is able to add some lasting memories to this storied spectacle. However, until that time comes, let’s take a moment to recognize some of the times that made this event so special.
In our opinion, here’s a look at the five most memorable All-Star Game moments ever.
1. Pedro Martinez Proves Unhittable at Fenway
- Year: 1999
- Location: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
It was during the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park that baseball fans were reminded just how dominant Pedro Martinez could be on the mound. Pitching in front of his home crowd as the starter for the American League, Martinez struck out the side in the first inning; a group that included Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa. He would start the second inning the same way as the first, with a strikeout. This time is Mark McGwire who’d be embarrassed by Petey’s greatness. The following batter, Matt Williams, would reach base on an error, but that’d be it. The next man up — Jeff Bagwell — would get struck out and Williams would be thrown out trying to steal second on the same play. That’s two innings of work, no hits, and five strikeouts. For his efforts, Martinez would be named the All-Star Game MVP.
2. Reggie Jackson Launches an Unforgettable Home Run
- Year: 1971
- Location: Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
Before he would go on to cement his place in history as “Mr. October,” Oakland Athletics outfielder Reggie Jackson was just a 25-year-old making his second-ever All-Star Game appearance in 1971. However, in the third inning, Jackson blasted a home run into the Detroit night that may well still be going had it not hit a transformer on the roof of Tiger Stadium. With one mammoth swing, Jackson showcased his incredible power and put himself on the map as one of the game’s soon-to-be superstars
3. Cal Ripken Jr.’s Perfect Ending
- Year: 2001
- Location: Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
The 2001 All-Star Game couldn’t have gone any better for legend Cal Ripken Jr. Playing in his 19th (consecutive) and final Midsummer Classic, not only did he get to start off the game playing in his original shortstop position — courtesy of a class move by Alex Rodriguez — but he jacked the first pitch of his first at-bat right over the left field wall. It was only fitting that Ripken would be named the game’s MVP. What a way to go out for the Iron Man.
4. Enter the Sandman
- Year: 2013
- Location: Citi Field, New York City, New York
With Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blasting over the speakers of Citi Field, Mariano Rivera made his way to the mound of the 2013 All-Star Game. This would be the last Midsummer Classic for the greatest closer the sport of baseball had ever seen. Alone on the field, Rivera was greeted with a thunderous applause worthy of his excellence. Both the NL and AL teams, as well as the crowd on hand, acknowledging the legend who stood before them. It was a moving sequence that ended the only way it possible could have — with The Sandman putting to sleep the opposition in a 1-2-3 inning.
5. There’s No Tying in Baseball…Right?
- Year: 2002
- Location: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
You cannot talk about memorable MLB All-Star Games without addressing the craziness of the 2002 contest. After 11 innings of hard-fought ball, with both sides totally out of pitchers, then commissioner Bud Selig opted to do the unthinkable: He ended the game in a tie. Said the former man in charge:
“Nobody wanted to play more than I did, but I have to balance the concerns and hopes of the fans against the welfare of the players and the game. And every so often you get caught in a really difficult and sensitive situation. This is why they have a commissioner, because somebody has to make those decisions.”
The decision wasn’t popular then and it’s not popular now. However, there’s one thing no one could possibly deny: It was certainly memorable.