When the first MLB All-Star Game was held at Comiskey Park in Chicago in July of 1933, it was meant to be a one-time event to bolster the sport during the depths of the Great Depression.
Billed as a one-of-a-kind “Game of the Century,” the contest between the two league rosters stocked with a diamond-full of Hall of Famers was popular enough for MLB to make it an annual occurrence.
Held every year since (except in 1945 because of World War II) the all-time record between the National League and American League in the 88 years of the All-Star Game is tied with each league having 43 wins and two ties.
Even though interleague games are now common place and the All-Star Game is no longer used to determine home-field advantage in the World Series, it remains a highlight on the summer sports calendar and has consistently been a showcase of some of baseball’s finest moments outside of October.
In advance of the 89th edition of the Midsummer Classic, we thought taking a look back at nine of the best moment in MLB All-Star Game history would knock it out of the park.
Get your peanuts and Cracker Jack ready …
1) The color barrier finally comes down
1949: Though Jackie Robinson had begun playing in the major leagues in 1947, the color barrier in the All-Star Game didn’t come down until 1949 at, fittingly enough, Robinson’s home stadium of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Joining Robinson in the game were black players Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe of the hometown Dodgers and Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians.
2) Ted Williams honored by baseball legends during pregame ceremony
1999: Before tossing out the game’s first pitch while being flanked by Mark McGwire and Tony Gwynn, Teddy Ballgame, 80 at the time, was greeted at the mound by both All-Star squads and 31 of the top 100 ballplayers in MLB history. It’s unlikely that a greater collection of baseball talent has ever been gathered on a diamond since.
3) Reggie Jackson nearly hits the ball out of Tiger Stadium, literally
1971: Had it not hit off a light tower on the roof of Tiger Stadium, the bomb that Mr. October crushed off Dock Ellis might still be going. Charted at an estimated 520 feet, Jackson’s blast still stands as the longest home run in All-Star Game history.
4) Cal Ripken Jr. homers to start scoring in last All-Star Game appearance
2001: Elected as the American League third baseman in his final, and 19th, All-Star appearance, Ripken got to start at shortstop after Alex Rodriguez offered to switch positions. The game was scoreless when Ripken hit a solo home run in the third inning to open the scoring and that lead was never relinquished as the American League went on to win 4-1. The shot earned Ripken the game’s MVP award, his first since 1991.
5) Ichiro Suzuki touches ’em all with an inside-the-park home run
2007: When a ball he hit to right field took an odd carom off the wall at AT&T Park, Ichiro knew what to do and took off around the bases. Scoring Brian Roberts in front of him, Ichiro’s hit was his third of the game as well as the first (and still only) inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history. Usually stoic, Ichiro even had to grin when he crossed the plate.
6) Pete Rose runs over Ray Fosse at the dish in the bottom of the 12th
1970: With the scored tied at 4-4 and two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, Rose was on second when Jim Hickman singled up the middle. Center fielder Amos Otis charged the ball hard and threw the ball toward Fosse at home as Rose rounded third. Fosse had to go up the line a little to collect the ball, leaving room Rose no room to get around him or slide. Instead, Rose ran straight through him, dislodging the ball and Fosse’s shoulder from its socket as well as scoring the winning run. It stands as perhaps the most controversial play in All-Star Game history.
7) Torii Hunter robs Barry Bonds of a homer at the wall
2002: With two outs in the first inning, Bonds stepped to the plate at Miller Park and sent a Derek Lowe offering deep to center field. Hunter tracked it the whole way and calmly jumped at the park’s eight-foot wall in center and snagged it a good two feet above the top of the wall. As a response, Bonds ran over and jokingly picked Hunter up in the outfield. The play was even more significant because the game ended in a tie when both teams ran out of pitchers in the 11th inning..
8) Randy Johnson puts the fear of God and his fastball into John Kruk
1993: The same year the Big Unit racked up 308 strikeouts, he faced off against Phillies first baseman John Kruk with two outs in the top of the third inning. The first pitch from Johnson’s left arm sailed about a foot over Kruk’s helmet at 98 miles per hour. After needlessly ducking out of the way, Kruk stepped out of the batter’s box and never really got back into it, striking out after the next two pitches while everyone in attendance laughed.
9) Carl Hubbell strikes out five Hall of Famers in a row
1934: In just the second All-Star Game ever, New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell struck out future Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin consecutively. Hubbell—a Hall of Fame player who was nicknamed “The Meal Ticket” during his playing days—still holds the All-Star Game record of five strikeouts in a row.