While becoming an All-Star is a great honor, what a player does in the game could leave a lasting impact on his legacy.
USA TODAY Sports
Once upon a time, the All-Star game was meant to be a one-time event.
The event was conceived in 1933 to coincide with the World’s Fair at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. But with two rosters bursting with future Hall of Famers, the game drew enough interest for Major League Baseball to decide to make the All-Star Game an annual affair.
Now, with the 88th All-Star Game approaching, we took a look at some of the most memorable moments in the history of the event.
1949: Breaking the barrier
Though Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of the majors during the 1947 season, no African Americans appeared in the All-Star Game until two years later.
Once again, though, Robinson was among the men who made history, as Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Lary Doby of the Cleveland Indians also made appearances.
Fittingly, the barrier was broken down in the Dodgers’ home stadium, Ebbets Field. The American League won 11-7, but the result paled in comparison to the significance of the day.
1975: Hank Aaron says goodbye
Aaron made his final All-Star appearance – the 25th time he was an All-Star in his career. Aaron’s 25 nominations are still the most in history, and perhaps even more remarkably, he was featured in the All-Star Game for every year of his career except for his rookie and final seasons.
Going 0-for-1 wasn’t exactly a triumphant exit form the event, but that doesn’t take away from the fact Aaron’s standing record and the impact he had on the game.
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1999: Williams honored at Fenway
The game wasn’t famous in itself, but the pregame ceremony made its mark in the history of All-Star Games.
The ceremony featured an appearance from the All-Century Team — a squad comprised of some of the game’s biggest legends. And fittingly,Ted Williams was honored by his old franchise before throwing out the first pitch.
It goes without saying that Williams is one of the greatest players considered to play the game, as he is the last player to hit over .400 in an MLB season.
Williams will always be immortalized in Red Sox history, but the ceremony made it that much more special.
2001: Ripken’s sendoff
It’s hard to imagine a better way for Cal Ripken Jr. to have gone out.
The 19-time All-Star homered in the bottom of the third inning to give the AL a 1-0 lead – one it wouldn’t relinquish, going on to win 4-1 at Safeco Field. Ripken eventually went on to win All-Star Game MVP.
But before the homer, and before the game even started, is when Ripken really received a nod to his entire career. Though Alex Rodriguez was selected as the starting shortstop that year, he insisted that Ripken move from third base and claim the position he had orchestrated such an illustrious career at.
There have been plenty of legends to play the game, but Ripken went out the way he deserved to.
2002: The tie/Hunter robs Bonds
The 2002 All-Star Game became infamous after then-commissioner Bud Selig declared the game a tie in the 11th inning after both teams ran out of pitchers.
The debacle led to Major League Baseball’s establishment of the All-Star Game as a contest to decide home-field advantage of the World Series. Quite simply, the 2002 tie made the All-Star Game what it is today.
On top of it all, the 2002 exhibition yielded one of the most memorable plays and photos in the history of the All-Star Game. In the bottom of the first inning, Bonds sent a would-be homer to right center.
Unfortunately for him, Torii Hunter had other ideas — scaling the wall to rob Bonds of the homer before eventually trotting to the infield, where Bonds jokingly threw Hunter over his shoulder.
2007: The inside-the-parker
In the top of the fifth inning, with one man on, Ichiro Suzuki roped a ball to the deepest part of AT&T Park in right-center field. Unfortunately for the National League squad, the ball took an awkward bounce off an All-Star banner past Ken Griffey Jr. and bounced into the corner of right field.
Ichiro took full advantage of the blunder, touching them all en route to registering the first inside-the-park home run in the history of the All-Star Game.
2008: A five-hour affair
The game wasn’t exactly five hours, but four hours and 50 minutes was long enough to become the longest in the history of the All-Star Game.
Eventually, Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th inning gave the AL the victory that everybody had been waiting for. In total, the teams combined for 27 hits, 23 different pitchers took the mound and 35 players registered at-bats.
2016: Mike Trout makes unique history
With a single in his first at-bat of the 2016 All-Star Game, Trout became the first player in the history of the majors to notch a hit in the first plate appearance of five consecutive midsummer classics.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Trout has also hit for a quasi-cycle in the All-Star Game — registering a single in 2012, a double in 2013 and a triple in 2014 before homering in 2015, all in his first plate appearances.
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