TOP 5: All-Star Game Moments in Cleveland Indians History
By Jason Kaminski
July means one thing in Major League Baseball and that is the Midsummer’s Classic, the All-Star Game. This year it will take place in Kansas City and the Tribe will be represented by Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez. Over the years the Cleveland Indians have had some big moments in these games. This list will be comprised of moments that either occurred in Cleveland or that involved a Cleveland player. I encourage you to give your input as well!
5. 1949 – Larry Doby Helps Break Color Barrier
Larry Doby broke into the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1947, just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, thus becoming the first black player to play in the American League. Two years later Doby, along with Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella, became the first to play in a Major League All-Star Game. The game was played in Brooklyn at Ebbets Field and the American League won by a score of 11-7. Doby, being the first black player to make the All-Star team in the American League, went 0-for-1 in his debut.
4. 1997 – Larry Walker Switch Hits
The 1997 All-Star Game was held at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field. It was a renaissance of Cleveland baseball at the time, the park was opened three years prior and the team was having great success. Many Tribe ballplayers were named to the star-studded team but one of the most memorable moments occurred between two players who were not a part of the Tribe. Randy Johnson was known as an intimidating force on the mound and was never afraid to brush back a hitter. Colorado Rockies slugger Larry Walker was equally intimidating at the plate. One of the best parts of the All-Star Game is the entertainment that takes place and what would happen during this duel would not soon be forgotten. As Walker stepped into the left-handed batter’s box Johnson whirled a fastball well over Walker’s head, something Johnson had done in a previous game against John Kruk. After a few smiles and chuckles were seen Walker decided he would not risk fate and just bat right handed. He flipped his hemet backwards on his head and stepped in as a righty. Certainly one of the most humorous moments in All-Star history and it took place right here in Cleveland.
3. 1954 – Al Rosen Shines
The 1954 season was a magical one for the Cleveland Indians. They had the league’s best record, won the American League pennant and last year’s league MVP Al Rosen was leading the way. Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium was the site for the ’54 midsummer classic and the fans in attendance would certainly not be disappointed. Not only did their American League win the game 11-9, but the star of the game was hometown hero Al Rosen. As remarkable as Rosen’s performance was, 3-for-4 with two home runs and five runs batted in, the circumstances surrounding it were even more impressive. Rosen actually was playing the game with a broken finger, something you certainly would not see in today’s game. There is no question that if an MVP award been given out at this time Rosen would have walked away with the hardware.
2. 1970 – Rose vs. Fosse
The 1970 All-Star Game would go down as one of the most exciting contests. The National League was trailing 4-1 going into the bottom of the ninth and they rallied off three runs to tie the game and send it into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th inning the National League started a small rally with two outs, getting two singles. As Jim Hickman stepped up to the plate he had goals of getting a base hit with the hope of the runner on second being able to break the tie and give them the victory. That runner on second base was Pete Rose. Hickman lined a single up the middle and Rose began his full speed trek towards the plate. As the throw came in from the outfield Rose barrelled into the American League catcher Ray Fosse and scored the winning run. Fosse, who was a member of the Cleveland Indians at the time, ended up with a badly separated shoulder and would never be the same player again. The video images of this play have been on repeat in All-Star Game recaps for years, therefore engraving it as one of the most memorable plays in All-Star Game history.
1. 1997 – Sandy Alomar Jr. Wins MVP
I was lucky enough to be in attendance as a young boy for the 1997 All-Star Game held in Cleveland. As excited as I was to be there, it would not even come close to the excitement I would feel in the bottom of the 7th inning. The game was a low scoring pitcher’s duel as only one run had been scored going into the 7th inning. Edgar Martinez had hit a solo home run in the 2nd to give the A.L. a 1-0 lead. In the top of the 7th the N.L. tied the game on a home run by Atlanta catcher Javy Lopez. As the American League came up in the bottom half of the inning things became very exciting for the hometown crowd. After a groundout, Bernie Williams walked. Joey Cora then came up and flew out to left field. With two outs, Cleveland catcher and fan favorite Sandy Alomar Jr. came up to bat. A wild pitch put Bernie Williams into scoring position. N.L. pitcher Shawn Estes delivered a pitch to Alomar that he rocked to left field and sent the Jacobs Field crowd into a frenzy. Alomar rounded the bases, arms held high and triumphant as the American League now had a 3-1 lead. Relievers Randy Myers and Mariano Rivera would hold down the lead to make it a final. Sandy Alomar Jr. would walk away with the Most Valuable Player honors, becoming the first player to receive the award while playing the game in his team’s home park. It would definitely be a night to remember for Cleveland fans.
Have any Cleveland related All-Star memories you would like to share? Feel free to post them in our comments or on our Facebook page!