Keepsake All-Star Game moments, collected by ESPN's own all-star eyewitness team of baseball analysts and writers.


Keepsake All-Star Game moments, collected by ESPN's own all-star eyewitness team of baseball analysts and writers.

SOMETHING SPECIAL ALWAYS HAPPENS. Something worth remembering. Pete Rose body-slamming Ray Fosse in 1970. Ted Williams knocking Rip Sewell's famous eephus pitch out of the park in 1946. Carl Hubbell striking out five future Hall of Famers in a row in 1934. (Because you asked: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.) For the record, we weren't there live and in person for any of those. But we've seen plenty of other magic All-Star moments over more recent years. And as the 2014 All-Star Game in Target Field approaches on Tuesday, we asked our baseball experts -- those who played in the games and those who covered them -- for their favorite memories. The only rule: You had to be there. We were.

July 10, 2001

AL 4, NL 1, Safeco Field

To play to the story, they cooked up the position switch at the start of the game. So couldn't they have cooked up the home run in the third inning, too? 'Cause, you know, that made the story unforgettable.

First, the switcheroo. As the American League team took the field in the top of the first, Alex Rodriguez, voted in as the starter at shortstop, walked over to third base and pointed Cal Ripken, voted in as the starter there, to the middle-infield spot that had been Ripken's home for the first 16 years of his Hall of Fame career. A-Rod, he said later, dreamed it up a week before the game as a tribute to the man who'd redefined the position of shortstop. Ripken was going to retire at the end of the 2001 season. This was his last All-Star Game. Rodriguez, then with the Rangers, ran the scheme past the AL's All-Star manager in advance and received Joe Torre's blessing. Ripken didn't know. It was a conspiracy by any definition, and it worked. Pure theater.

So when, in his first at-bat leading off the bottom of the third inning, Ripken smacked Chan Ho Park's first pitch -- a straight-arrow fastball, right down the middle - into the visitor's bullpen in left field . . . well, was it too good to be true? A perfect home run in Ripken's last All-Star Game, to go with his perfect home run in Consecutive Game No. 2,131, the one that broke Lou Gehrig's record back in 1995? Was it a setup, an on-purpose meatball, another way to play to the Ripken retirement storyline? A conspiracy-theorist's dream!

As a conspiracy theory --like most conspiracy theories, of course -- it's both good clean fun and too far-fetched to be taken seriously except maybe for the juicy layer it adds to the memory. As a magic moment, as a baseball keepsake I'll take to my grave, it works beautifully in the Ripken romance. I don't care how the home run happened. I do care that it happened, and that I saw it up close and personal.

Two other unrelated images stay with me from that evening. The first, and funniest, is honorary NL manager Tommy Lasorda's backward tumble to dodge a piece of Vladimir Guerrero's shattered bat in the third-base coach's box in the sixth inning. Relive it with me!. The other is the high-definition television they'd installed in the back of the Safeco Field press box. First time I'd ever seen high-def. I was blown away. Can't live without it now.

But I digress. Ripken, of course, was named the MVP of that All-Star Game because why not? It was his story. Just, I might add, as this year's All-Star story belongs to another retiring AL shortstop. So who's going to groove one to Derek Jeter?


The 2001 All-Star Game was all Cal Ripken, all the time. And it was altogether fitting and proper that he was named the MVP. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

July 14, 1992

Jack Murphy Stadium, AL 13, NL 6

I don't have too many fond memories of the All-Star Game. We (the National League) got killed in all three of the games I played. That wasn't fun.

People think my favorite has to be facing Randy Johnson in the 1993 game, but I struck out in that at-bat. And I struck out in my next at-bat against Jimmy Key that night, too. There was nothing to like there.

So my favorite All-Star Game was my second one, in San Diego in 1992. I had been traded from the Padres to the Phillies two years before, and I got a great ovation from the Padres fans. That was nice. I took a picture before the game with Jeff Montgomery, the closer for the Royals who went to Marshall. He's from West Virginia, like me. My first at-bat of the game was against him, and I singled up the middle.

My next at-bat was against Dennis Eckersley, and I singled then, too, which was nice because he was the best closer in the game at the time. But we got our butts kicked in the game 13-6, so whatever I did was irrelevant.

The Phillies had finished the first half in San Diego, and Darren Daulton and I made the All-Star team so we just stayed in the city. But all of our gear other than our game stuff -- jersey, pants, glove, spikes -- was sent back to Philadelphia. We had nothing to wear for the workout day. So Darren and I went to the concession stand in San Diego to buy some sort of Phillies T-shirt to wear for the workout. The lady at the concession stand told us, "We don't sell any Phillies stuff. They're not any good. No one would buy it." Darren found some plastic Phillies warm-up shirt to wear, but it was unseasonably hot in San Diego that week, and I told Darren that I would have died wearing a plastic warm-up. So I borrowed a shirt from Leo Mazzone, the Braves pitching coach who is a friend of mine.

I still can't get over that lady at the concession stand ripping our team.

It was beautiful.


This scene is NOT John Kruk's favorite All-Star moment. His favorite happened in '92. But the 1993 strikeout against Randy Johnson is certainly his most memorable. Photo by MLB Photos via Getty Images

July 12, 1988

Riverfront Stadium: AL 2, NL 1

My favorite All-Star Game memory is 1988, my first All-Star Game. It was in Cincinnati, my hometown. I grew up there. I was drafted by the Reds. It couldn't get any better.

Because the game was in Cincinnati, all the Big Red Machine guys were there to celebrate it. I talked to all of them: Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Davey Concepcion. Those guys were my baseball heroes, and here I was, talking to them before an All-Star Game. That was my Reds family, and the Reds were like family. My real family was there, too. I'm not sure how many tickets I left for the game, but it was at least 15 for my family.

Rod Carew was there, too. Hobnobbing with guys like him before the game just made it an extra special day for me.

During the game, I sat next to Willie Stargell. He was the honorary captain of the National League team. We talked a lot about the differences between the American and National Leagues -- there was no interleague play back then. Willie told me that the pitchers in the American League were different from those in the National League. The AL pitchers were always trying to trick the hitter, he said, so look for a lot of curveballs and changeups because that's all they throw in the American League. Later in the game, Whitey Herzog, the manager of the National League team, told me I was going to pinch hit for Ozzie Smith, and then stay in the game at shortstop. As I was waiting to take my at-bat, the AL team brought in Dennis Eckersley, and Willie said, "Don't forget what I told you. All this guy throws is off-speed stuff."

So I stepped in the box, and Eck threw me three straight fastballs, strike 1-2-3. I went to Willie after the at-bat and said, "What happened there?"

He took me aside and said with a big smile, "Let's talk about making adjustments. Baseball is a game of adjustments."


Barry Larkin's takeaway from his first All-Star Game in 1988? When Willie Stargell tells you something, get a second opinion. Photo by MLB Photos via Getty Images

July 13, 1999

Fenway Park, AL 4, NL 1

The 1999 All-Star Game was special, even before it began, because it was held at historic Fenway Park for the first time since 1961. And every moment of that week was beyond special.

It began with the Home Run Derby, which took place during the steroid era but before most prodigious power displays were being questioned or ruined by the revelations that came later. I was sitting in the top row of the press box, a vantage point so high I could see home runs clear the net beyond The Monster in left field. Mark McGwire hit blast after blast, one after another, deep into the night.

But that, of course, was nothing compared to the ceremony before the All-Star Game the next night. The greatest Red Sox player ever, the incomparable Ted Williams, was introduced to thunderous applause from Boston's fans. He sat in a wheelchair in front of the mound. The All-Stars, led by Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken -- no surprise there -- slowly gathered around Williams, just to get close to him, to get a glimpse of the game's last .400 hitter. He was so imposing, so mythical, a number of the players were afraid to speak. Williams looked at McGwire and said, "Can you smell the smoke on the bat when you really hit a ball hard?"

It was a scene that couldn't happen in any other sport. With all due respect to the great George Mikan, if he had been wheeled out to center court before an NBA All-Star Game back then, Shaquille O'Neal could have rightly said, "I would have dunked all over this guy." Curt Schilling said that night, "If Ted had played today, he would have lit up every pitcher here."

And then the game began. The American League starter, Pedro Martinez, had just finished one of the best first halves of a season that any pitcher has ever had, and was beginning to string together perhaps the two greatest seasons (1999-2000) in major league history. And he was dazzling. Pitching in front of the Fenway faithful, Martinez dominated the first two innings. He faced six batters and struck out five: Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, McGwire and Jeff Bagwell. Pedro seemed to be throwing 1,000 mph. The only way the game, and All-Star week, could have been better would have been to see Williams, in his prime, face Pedro in his prime.

That would have been the All-Star at-bat of a lifetime.


A start that no past -- or future, for that matter -- All-Star Game can match: Ted Williams taking center stage at Fenway Park in 1999. Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport

July 6, 1983

Comiskey Park, AL 13, NL 3

My favorite memory of the All-Star Game is 1983. You never forget your first All-Star experience. I will remember it because Freddy Lynn hit what still is the only grand slam in the history of the All-Star Game. And I remember that we, the American League, won the game for the first time in a really long time. I didn't get to play in it because I had pitched the Sunday before, but I had a really great time watching the game from the bullpen.

And while I was in the bullpen, I sat next to Bob Boone, who was a veteran catcher with the Angels at the time. I asked him, "If you were me, what would you do to get better?" What he said changed my career. I had been OK to that point, but I won 20 games the following year, and off I went. He told me that just because I was a fastball guy didn't mean I always had to throw a fastball in a fastball count. I'd always thought that in a 3-1 count, you always threw a fastball. So I started throwing my slider more. In the second half of that season, I started throwing my slider at times in fastball counts. And everything just took off for me.

Bob Boone was about the only player I talked to that year at the All-Star Game. Don Drysdale -- he was like a second father to me -- told me before the game not to talk to any of the players. He told me that getting to know them, meeting them, wasn't going to help me get those players out when I faced them later. I would have loved to have introduced myself to guys like Robin Yount, but I didn't because Don told me not to. So after the game, I showered, didn't talk to a soul, then went out to dinner with my wife. I didn't have as much fun as I could have, and I'm sure some of the guys thought I was a big jerk. But Don Drysdale was so important to my career. I did as he said.

I have to mention the '89 All-Star Game, my third. I met President Reagan before the game. I was standing with John Smoltz when Bo Jackson hit that home run to start the game. Buck O'Neil told me there was a special sound that came off the bat of Josh Gibson and Hank Aaron, but I had never heard it until I heard Bo hit that homer.

In batting practice earlier that day, our team held a home run derby. Everyone threw in $100 to see who could hit the longest home run, but it had to go to center field. And then Bo hit one longer in the game than anyone did in BP. His bat speed just overwhelmed the speed of the ball.


Until Fred Lynn hit this one in 1983, no one had ever hit a grand slam in an All-Star Game. (We're still waiting for the second one.) Rick Sutcliffe was there to admire it. AP Photo/John Swart, File

July 9, 2002

Miller Park, AL 7, NL 7 (11)

I wish I could look back on the 2002 All-Star Game and just remember Torii Hunter jumping about 18 feet into the Milwaukee sky to rob Barry Bonds of an unforgettable All-Star homer. But nope. Can't do it.

I wish I could look back on the 2002 All-Star Game and just remember the awesome ceremony honoring the most memorable moments in the history of this sport. But nope. Can't do that, either.

And I really, really wish that when I look back on that night, I could recall something, anything, instead of the scene that's burned into all of our brains: Bud Selig throwing up his hands in shame, disgust and embarrassment over the All-Star Tie Heard Round the Sporting World. But sorry, Bud. That freeze-frame just won't fade. You're stuck with it. Forever.

You can blame what happened that night on Bud if you want. It was his town. And it was his decision, ultimately, to pull the plug after 11 innings, even though neither team had gotten around to winning yet.

But I blame Joe Torre, who managed the AL. I blame Bob Brenly, who managed the NL. I blame every manager who had spent the previous decade screwing up the All-Star Game until it came to this.

Once upon a time, it was an honor just to make an All-Star team. Once upon a time, All-Star managers didn't think there was some sort of mandate, thundering down from the heavens, to Get Everybody Into the Game, or they'd go home weeping.

But somewhere along the line in the '90s, everything changed. Benches were emptied. Bullpens were emptied. And then this game came along, and turned into the mess that showed all of us what a dopey idea that was.

So this was the night the sport got a really important memo: You can't charge people hundreds of dollars per ticket and tell them this is the only All-Star Game left that's still "a real game" -- and then tell them later it doesn't matter if anyone actually wins.

Well, because of this debacle, the rules have changed. Pitchers are saved now for these sorts of "emergencies." The game (ahem) "counts." And everyone seems to have resolved that nothing like this should ever happen again. So let's just hope that's the memory that really resonates from this embarrassing evening.

No more helpless shrugs. And no more ties. Please.


Damned if he did; damned if he didn't. Bud Selig had to choose to let 'em keep playing with no pitchers left, or call the the 2002 game a tie. A night that lives in All-Star infamy. Photo By Andy Lyons/Getty Images

July 15, 2003

U.S. Cellular Field, AL 7, NL 6

It was 2003 in Chicago, my first All-Star Game.

I was with the Reds, and we were in Milwaukee for our last series before the game. Geoff Jenkins, one of my best friends, was on the Brewers. We played at USC together, and we had known each other back in high school through our brothers, who also played at USC. He was a division rival -- the Brewers and Reds. That was the first year that fans were allowed to pick the final All-Star, and Geoff was the player picked by the fans. It was his first All-Star Game, too.

So, picture this: Here we were, best friends, teammates from college. We got in a limo and were driven from Milwaukee to Chicago for our first All-Star Game. And at several points in that drive, we kind of looked at each other and said, "Is this happening? Is this really for real?"

It also was special because my brother, Bret, made the AL All-Star team that year. Our parents, grandparents, wives, everyone was there at U.S. Cellular Field. On the field during the workout day, we had a picture taken of my grandpa (Ray Boone), my dad (Bob), Bret and me -- three generations of Boones, the only three-generation family of All-Stars in history. It was really meaningful because my grandpa passed away the following spring. Posing for that picture is one of the highlights of my career.

I will never forget learning that I had made the All-Star team. I was walking through the clubhouse when Tim Foli, one of the Reds coaches, told me that my dad, who was the manager of the Reds at the time, wanted to see me. I walked into his office and he started crying. I mean, weeping. Finally, he said, "You made the All-Star team." He could barely get it out. Remember, I had seen my dad cry maybe twice in his life; and right now, he is weeping. That's how memorable it was for him, and for me.

I gave him a hug. I figured I'd better console him.


Unforgettable: Three generations of All-Star Boones in one All-Star place at one All-Star time. Aaron and Bret posed with their grandfather, Ray, and their father, Bob, in 2003. AP Photo/Mark Duncan

Aug. 9, 1981

Cleveland Municipal Stadium: NL 5, AL 4

Hello, Cleveland! That's what baseball said on Aug. 9, 1981, predating "This Is Spinal Tap" by three years. A work stoppage had knocked out the middle third of the season, necessitating this Late Summer Classic at Municipal Stadium, and 72,086 people -- still the largest crowd in All-Star Game history -- turned out to welcome back the irrational pastime.

There were 17 (count 'em, 17) future Hall of Famers on the AL and NL rosters, as well as one (don't count 'em, one) who we assumed was going to Cooperstown, namely Pete Rose. The vice president, former Yale first sacker George H.W. Bush, was in attendance, as were Bob Hope, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn and Morganna the Kissing Bandit.

Given all that star power, and the import of the game, you might have thought I was excited. In truth, I was terrified. I had to file the game story to Sports Illustrated that was closing Sunday night on an early portable computer called the Teleram Portabubble. It was in a gray plastic carrying case that opened up to reveal a machine with a tiny screen and a phone-coupler at the top, and it was also the first time a story would be sent to SI from a computer. (Stop. A year earlier, I had to use Western Union in Cleveland. Stop.)

I had spent the hiatus doing offbeat baseball stories on Cape Cod and in Newark, Ohio (the World Friendship Series!) . . . and training on the new machine. Still, I didn't quite know what to expect as I sat in the upper deck of the old stadium, following the instructions in my handbook, the plays of the game and the flight of the foul balls. (One of them broke the nose of a guy in my row in the auxiliary press box. Hit me, I thought. Just don't hit my Portabubble.)

Ken Singleton of the O's homered off Tom Seaver of the Reds. Morganna ran out on the field to kiss Len Barker of the Indians. Gary Carter of the Expos homered off Ken Forsch of the Angels. Dave Parker of the Pirates homered off Mike Norris of the A's. The AL rallied for three runs off Burt Hooton of the Dodgers. Carter hit a second homer off Ron Davis of the Yankees. Mike Schmidt hit a two-run homer off Rollie Fingers of the Brewers to give the NL a 5-4 lead, and eventually its 10th win in a row.

I hit "Send." My story and baseball arrived on the same night.


Ken Singleton welcomed baseball back in 1981 with a second-inning home run off Tom Seaver. But eventually, the National League did what it always did back then. It won. AP Photo

July 15, 2008

Yankee Stadium, AL 4, NL 3 (15)

As a New Englander born and raised, I was always more of a Fenway Park devotee than an "old'' Yankee Stadium guy. The fan in me obviously respected and appreciated the historical contributions of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle. But as the years passed and time took its toll on the baseball cathedral in the Bronx, it became a charm-free zone noteworthy for an overbearing P.A. system and the ever-present smell of stale beer and urine.

So for me, when baseball staged a grand farewell for the House that Ruth Built at the 2008 All-Star Game, it was part celebration, part mercy killing.

My pregame assignment for was to collect personal memories from the assembled participants. Ian Kinsler, then with the Texas Rangers, recalled his first visit to the Bronx at age 6 or 7, when the park literally took his breath away. "I had a huge asthma attack during the game," Kinsler told me. "It was awesome. I had to go to the hospital and everything."

The 2008 festivities got off to an impressive start when Josh Hamilton staged a one-man assault on the Yankee Stadium bleachers in the Home Run Derby, only to fall victim to fatigue and Justin Morneau in the finale. But the game itself was more a war of attrition than a work of art.

The Americans and Nationals played on for a record 4 hours, 50 minutes before Michael Young's 15th-inning sacrifice fly gave the AL a 4-3 victory. The teams set new All-Star Game standards with 28 runners left on base, 34 strikeouts, and 63 players and 23 pitchers making an appearance.

By the time Morneau slid home with the game winner at 1:37 a.m., disaster aversion had taken precedence over home-field advantage in the World Series. With the pitching rosters nearly spent, All-Star managers Clint Hurdle and Terry Francona were giving serious thought to sending David Wright and J.D. Drew to the mound. Six years after the calamitous 7-7 finale in Milwaukee, MLB decreed that the All-Star Game simply would not, could not end in another tie.

My postgame assignment was chronicling the woes of Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who had just made three errors, struck out three times, grounded into a double play and set an All-Star Game record for forlorn looks captured on camera. I found Uggla in a far corner of the cramped visitors clubhouse, vowing not to let the experience define him and lamenting the cruel fates of the game. "When it rains, it pours," he said.

As it turns out, it did everything but rain on a chaotic, messy night of history in the Bronx. Some might say that Yankee Stadium deserved a more dignified showcase in its final All-Star Game. I'll always view it as a fitting goodbye for the big, loud, grungy ballpark in the city that never sleeps.


Good thing the 2008 game was played in the City That Never Sleeps, 'cause Justin Morneau didn't score the winning run in the 15th inning 'til the wee hours. Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via USPRESSWIRE

July 8, 1997

Jacobs Field, AL 3, NL 1

All right. I admit it. I am responsible for Ken Griffey Jr. being late for the AL team's pregame meeting in 1997.

How did I cause this? Simple. We were passing each other in the corridor leading to the AL clubhouse shortly after batting practice, and Griffey stopped me to ask why I had questioned him the previous day about whether he was going to participate in the Home Run Derby. Which led to a filibuster that could have prompted the U.S. Senate to action. It most definitely prompted action by David Justice.

As I recall, Griffey went on and on and on about many things during his long monologue, including complaining about how fans liked A-Rod more than him. (Mind you, this happened years before A-Rod left Seattle to sign his $242 million contract or was busted for PEDs.) I told him that wasn't true, that I had just seen a fan holding up a large sign that read, "In Junior We Trust." To which Griffey responded by complaining that this is just what he was talking about, that the sign was evidence fans were placing far too much pressure and responsibility on him.

At one point, an AL clubhouse worker came out and told Junior that Justice wanted him inside for the pregame meeting. Junior responded that he would be there in a minute. He then proceeded to keep talking to me for several more minutes. The clubhouse worker came out again and told Junior he was needed in the clubhouse. Junior nodded and continued talking. Finally, Justice came out of the clubhouse and personally told Griffey that he needed to get inside for a meeting. That finally ended the filibuster.

Why had I asked Junior a day earlier if he was going to hit in the Home Run Derby? Simply because at the time, he hadn't committed to it. Which I completely understood. Every year, the All-Star Game seems to demand more and more from players, who often simply want to put the "break" back in the All-Star break. That probably was the case for Griffey, who had flown cross-country into Cleveland late Sunday night from a series in Anaheim.

To his credit, Griffey gave it his all, anyway, that year. Despite being tired, he took part in the Derby. And he also played the entire All-Star Game . . . despite what must have been an exhausting monologue in the hallway.


He came, he saw, he … well, he talked. A lot. And in the end, Ken Griffey Jr. gave it his all in the Home Run Derby and in the All-Star Game in 1997. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images

July 17, 1979

Kingdome, NL 7, AL 6

Here's the thing to remember about the 1979 All-Star Game: The leagues didn't like each other back then. Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt and Joe Morgan didn't like the American League, and Reggie Jackson and Fred Lynn and Jim Rice didn't like the National League.

This came in the middle of the National League's dominance of the All-Star Game -- it had won 15 of the past 16 contests entering the game. Guys like Rose used these results to tout the NL's superiority -- never mind that the Yankees had won the World Series in 1977 and 1978, or that the A's had won three straight from 1972 to 1974.

The All-Star Game was proof that the NL was better and had bigger stars.

For a time, that had been true; the NL was quicker to integrate and dig into Latin America. There was a talent gap between the two leagues in the 1950s and well into the 1960s. But by the late '70s, this was no longer the case. Still, the NL kept winning, and that made the Midsummer Classic a huge event every July.

I knew this history as I sat in those left-field metal bleachers at the Kingdome. I wanted the AL to win, to shut up Rose and his crappy haircut. I wanted Nolan Ryan, the AL starter, to shove fastballs down the loudmouthed throats of the National Leaguers. After all, George Brett was as good as Schmidt; Rice was as good as Dave Parker; Ryan was the equal of Steve Carlton.

I saw one of the most exciting All-Star Games ever played that day. Morganna, the Kissing Bandit, bounced out from the stands and gave Brett a peck on the cheek. Parker, living up to his status as maybe the game's best all-around player, had two assists from the outfield. Hometown hero Bruce Bochte of the Mariners received a huge ovation and delivered an RBI pinch-hit single.

The game went back and forth. The NL scored twice in the top of the first but the AL responded with three runs, including Lynn's two-run homer. The NL took a 4-3 lead, but the AL scored twice in the bottom of the third. The NL tied it in the sixth, but at least Rose grounded into a big double play. Bochte delivered his go-ahead single to make it 6-5, but the AL left the bases loaded.

Jim Kern, relief ace for the Rangers (he had a 1.57 ERA that year in 143 innings), came in and pitched a scoreless seventh. In the bottom of the seventh, Rice led off with a bloop double, but Parker -- he played the entire game -- threw him out trying to stretch it into a triple. Then in the eighth ... disaster. A late-game reserve, the Mets' Lee Mazzilli -- Lee Mazzilli! -- pinch hit an opposite-field home run to left. Barely cleared the fence; a true Kingdome homer. In the bottom of the eighth, more disaster: Parker threw out Brian Downing at home plate to keep the score tied.

At that point, I guess it was inevitable. Kern walked the bases loaded in the ninth. Ron Guidry came on with two outs and walked Mazzilli. Are you kidding? Four walks to lose an All-Star Game?

I hated that damned National League.


What might have been … if only Brian Downing had beaten Gary Carter's tag in the bottom of the eighth in 1979. Instead, the National League won its 16th of the last 17 All-Star Games. AP Photo

July 12, 1994

Three Rivers Stadium, NL 8, AL 7

I had to find Tony Gwynn, quickly. The 1994 All-Star Game had ended suddenly and I was on deadline for the San Diego Union-Tribune, and I knew nobody would provide insight into how the game ended the way Tony could, with his appreciation for detail and his gift for complete recall. He would provide a window into the moment for me and, by extension, for readers.

I went to the interview room and, when I could not see him there, began to panic. This was just the second All-Star Game I had covered, and because Tony was the Padres' best player and was involved in the finish, I had to get his voice. A story without Tony's perspective would be unforgivable in the eyes of an editor the writers privately referred to as Cement Head.

I stepped into the National League's clubhouse and saw Moises Alou, who got the game-winning hit. I saw Marquis Grissom. I saw Fred McGriff. But I could not find Gwynn.

But there was a horseshoe of reporters talking with somebody, and when I went up on tiptoes, there was Tony, with his big smile, describing what happened between his memorable laughs.

The game story that appeared in the Union-Tribune the next day had my name on it, but Tony might as well have written it:

Tony Gwynn had just scratched out a hit, and as he has done so many times over the years, he stood alongside Will Clark at first base last night and talked hitting.

Except this was a little different. They were talking All-Star hitting. Bottom of the 10th inning, NL and AL tied 7-7.

Expos left fielder Moises Alou was batting against White Sox pitcher Jason Bere. "You know what?" Gwynn said to Clark. "If he [Bere] comes inside, Alou might turn on the ball."

... Leading off the 10th, Gwynn was fooled by Bere, but managed to get solid wood on the ball and bounce a single through the middle.

Alou and Gwynn had flown together from San Diego late Sunday night and into Monday morning, playing cards through the night. "He was something," Gwynn said chuckling. "He kept asking me what to do. When we got to the airport -- What do I do? When we got to the hotel -- What do I do?"

However, Alou, the son of an All-Star, needed no directions in this situation. Bere pitched inside, but Alou's bat beat the ball to the strike zone. Gwynn's muttered prediction to Clark was right: A high liner to left, headed for the base of the wall.

Gwynn was off and running.

"I knew as soon as the ball was hit I was going to try to score," Gwynn said.

Third-base coach Jim Leyland concurred, circling his right arm wildly -- Go, go! -- but Gwynn said later he never saw Leyland. He was locked in on home.

Gwynn was still on the dirt just past third base when Ripken received the throw from left, turned and fired.

Gwynn arrived just after Ripken's throw, but his foot touched home as catcher Ivan Rodriguez slapped down the tag.

Gwynn leaped to his feet, spread his arms wide in a safe sign. Right again.

I tell friends all the time: Tony Gwynn was a gift to anyone who loved baseball.


No one ever doubted Tony Gwynn's baseball instincts. So when he scored from first with the winning run in 1994, it was all in a night's work. Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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