1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
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|Date||July 8, 1997|
|MVP||Sandy Alomar Jr. (CLE)|
|First pitch||Larry Doby|
|TV announcers||Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Bob Brenly|
|Radio announcers||John Rooney, Jerry Coleman and Jeff Torborg|
The 1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 68th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 8, 1997, at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, the home of the Cleveland Indians of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 3-1. The game marked the fifth time the All-Star Game was held in Cleveland and first since 1981. It was also the first All-Star game held at Jacobs Field, which opened three years earlier.
Players in italics have since been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
|Home Plate||Larry Barnett (AL)|
|First Base||Gerry Davis (NL)|
|Second Base||Drew Coble (AL)|
|Third Base||Jeff Kellogg (NL)|
|Left Field||Terry Craft (AL)|
|Right Field||Wally Bell (NL)|
|National League||American League|
|1||Craig Biggio||Astros||2B||1||Brady Anderson||Orioles||LF|
|2||Tony Gwynn||Padres||DH||2||Alex Rodriguez||Mariners||SS|
|3||Barry Bonds||Giants||LF||3||Ken Griffey Jr.||Mariners||CF|
|4||Mike Piazza||Dodgers||C||4||Tino Martinez||Yankees||1B|
|5||Jeff Bagwell||Astros||1B||5||Edgar Martínez||Mariners||DH|
|6||Larry Walker||Rockies||RF||6||Paul O'Neill||Yankees||RF|
|7||Ken Caminiti||Padres||3B||7||Cal Ripken, Jr.||Orioles||3B|
|8||Ray Lankford||Cardinals||CF||8||Iván Rodríguez||Rangers||C|
|9||Jeff Blauser||Braves||SS||9||Roberto Alomar||Orioles||2B|
|Greg Maddux||Braves||P||Randy Johnson||Mariners||P|
|WP: José Rosado (1-0) LP: Shawn Estes (0-1) Sv: Mariano Rivera (1)|
NL: Javy López (1)
AL: Edgar Martínez (1), Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1)
The American League jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning led by a home run by Edgar Martínez of the Seattle Mariners. No one would score after that until the 7th inning when Javy López of the Atlanta Braves would tie the game with a home run of his own. However, in the bottom of the 7th, Bernie Williams of the New York Yankees walked and then Sandy Alomar, Jr. of the Cleveland Indians hit a home run to give the American League the lead and the win, as they held on to defeat the National League 3-1 and Alomar became the first player in All-Star Game history to win All-Star Game MVP as a member of the host team. Curiously, all the runs were driven in and scored by players either born (Alomar, López & Williams) or raised (Martinez) in Puerto Rico. Winning pitcher José Rosado's family roots are also from that island.
The loudest ovation of the All-Star Game, which came early in the player introductions, was reserved for Kenny Lofton, whom the Indians had traded to the Atlanta Braves prior to the start of the 1997 season. Lofton was on the National League roster, but was injured and did not play. Also in the pregame ceremonies, Albert Belle, who was representing the Chicago White Sox, was booed for leaving the Indians as a free agent the previous winter.
Unlike past years, the performance of O Canada, this year by the McAuley Boys, was not televised. Instead, the Fox network, airing its first All-Star Game, went into a commercial break, resulting in angry phone calls from Canadian television viewers. The Canadian National Anthem was later shown on tape delay after the game in the Cleveland area. Country star LeAnn Rimes sang the National Anthem following the commercial break. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of baseball's breaking of the color barrier, the ceremonial first pitch featured former Indian Larry Doby, the first African-American player to play in the American League.
One of the more colorful moments in All-Star Game history occurred during an at bat with Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners pitching and Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies at the plate. The teams of the two former Montreal Expos teammates had faced each other about one month prior. However, when Johnson started on June 12, Walker chose not to play, explaining that, "I faced Randy one time in spring training and he almost killed me." In this All-Star Game, Walker batted against Johnson, who theatrically threw over his head. Ever adaptable, Walker placed his batting helmet backwards and switched sides in the batters' box to stand right-handed for one pitch. He ended the at bat by drawing a walk. The incident momentarily drew mirth and laughter from players in both dugouts, fans and announcers, and comparisons to Johnson pitching against John Kruk in the 1993 All-Star Game, in which he also threw over his head. In spite of garnering a reputation of avoiding Johnson, Walker batted .393 (11 hits in 28 at bats) against him in his career, nearly double the rate of all left-handed batters at .199.
After the game, Major League Baseball CEO Paul Beeston presented Alomar with the All-Star Game MVP Award in lieu of the Commissioner of Baseball, who would not be named until after the next All-Star Game, when then-Chairman of the Executive Committee Bud Selig was officially named Commissioner.
This was the last All-Star Game in which the Milwaukee Brewers were represented as a team from the American League. The Brewers switched over to the National League for the 1998 season as a result of the expansion franchises in Arizona and Tampa.
Footnotes and references
- Player declined or was unable to play.
- Associated Press (June 12, 1997). "Walker will not face Johnson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- Cut4Staff (July 8, 2016). "Today in All-Star Game history: Larry Walker flips helmet, bats right-handed". MLB.com Cut 4. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Baker, Chris (July 9, 1997). "Johnson's wild toss amuses Walker, fans". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Eisenberg, John; Kubatko, Roch (July 9, 1997). "Relieved Walker walks away from hairy at-bat vs. Johnson Kruk-like wild pitch keeps Rockie on toes". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Elias Sports Bureau, Inc. (June 11, 2005). "Elias says ..." ESPN.com. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- "Randy Johnson career pitching splits". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017.