The National League was absolutely loaded with starting pitchers in 1988. At the end of the year, it was a three-man race for the Cy Young Award, but at mid-season the field was wide open. Dwight Gooden got the starting nod. You would not have convinced me in 1988 that he would never be on another All-Star team.
Next up was Houston’s Bob Knepper, the only Astro on the team. I shook his hand during the All-Star workout the night before. I didn’t have anything to get signed with me, and he was the only one that acknowledged my existence.
David Cone is another one of the borderline Hall of Fame cases. I wouldn’t vote for him, but there are a lot of Coneheads who believe he was snubbed by the voters.
I never would have guessed that Kevin Gross was an All-Star. He did have 10 wins at the break, though, and 2.47 is a pretty good ERA. He just doesn’t register as an All-Star in my brain.
Mark Davis got a hefty raise after his 1989 Cy Young season, but he never pitched like he did in 1988 and 1989 again.
As names go, “Walk” may be one of the worst for a pitcher. “Homer” beats it, but “Walk” is not far behind. Fortunately, Bob Walk never appeared in the top ten for walks.
Orel Hershiser spent 18 years in the majors, winning 204 games for the Dodgers, Indians, Mets, and Giants. 1988 was his greatest season, winning the Cy Young Award, the NLCS MVP, and the World Series MVP.
Just as Tom Kelly chose his closer for the American League roster, Whitey Herzog named his closer Todd Worrell to the National League team. Worrel actually got into the game and retired the side in the top of the 9th: George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., and Don Mattingly.
Greg Maddux made his first of eight All-Star teams in 1988, but didn’t pitch in the game. Am I the only one who thinks eight is way too low of a number for one of the greatest pitchers ever?
Danny Jackson was one of three Reds on the roster, but didn’t get to play in the game. There should be a rule that all players from the host city get to play. Jackson only made one more All-Star roster; while with the Phillies in 1994, he faced Scott Cooper, Kenny Lofton, and Will Clark without getting an out. He allowed two inherited runners and one of his own to score.
ESPN recently published a piece entitled “Midsummer Memories,” prompting their writers and analysts (including former players Barry Larkin, Rick Sutcliffe, and John Kruk) to recall their favorite moments in the All-Star Game. Even fans have their favorite memories.
The first All-Star Game I remember watching was the 1987 affair in Oakland. I had to get special permission to stay at my neighbor Dan’s house to watch the whole game. Eric Davis started in left field; the Reds were also represented by catcher Bo Diaz and relief pitcher John Franco. Ozzie Virgil of the Braves was also named to the team; he was dating one of my sister’s friends at the time and had signed a few cards for me (in ballpoint pen! The horror!). The game itself was an extra-inning pitching contest, finally ending after thirteen innings. Tim Raines drove in Virgil and shortstop Hubie Brooks in the top of the 13th, and the Mets’ Sid Fernandez was awarded the save when he held the AL scoreless in the bottom half.
The next year, the All-Star Game was held in Cincinnati, and the Reds sent Larkin, rookie third baseman Chris Sabo, and pitcher Danny Jackson. I attended the work-out day and Home Run Derby, and let me tell you, it would have been awesome if it actually happened. That was the only time the day-berfore festivities were cancelled due to rain. I was extremely disappointed. I can’t remember who was supposed to appear in the HRD that year; I’m sure Davis was among the sluggers scheduled to participate, along with Darryl Strawberry and Jose Canseco, and maybe Mark McGwire. Our seats were in the top section of Riverfront Stadium, but with the weather, the crowd had thinned out and we were able to sneak down to the field level. We worked our way up to the edge of the field, but I hadn’t brought anything with me for autographs, so I had to settle for a handshake from Astros’ pitcher Bob Knepper, who did not play in the game the next day. Even though the Home Run Derby was rained out, I still enjoyed being in the park and seeing all the players from so many different teams.
What are some of your favorite All-Star Game memories?