No All-Star Game, but we’ve got plenty of the D-backs’ memories
Our sports calendars have been littered with scratched-out events since March.
Tuesday brings another huge red X.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game should have been held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but was officially canceled earlier this month. This year marks the first since 1945 that MLB won’t hold one of its signature events.
No, this year we won’t get the sights, colors and pageantry the All-Star Game brings to a normally scarce sporting calendar in mid-July.
We won’t ever know if Ketel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks would have earned his second straight start at second base for the National Leaguers. We won’t know if Madison Bumgarner was able to recapture his earlier Giants form and become an All-Star for the first time since 2016.
What we do have is 22 years of D-backs memories in the All-Star Game. Here are a few to tide you over (hopefully) until we get back to some sort of sports normalcy.
1998: Devon White becomes the first D-back to play in the Midsummer Classic
White, whom the D-backs picked up in a November 1997 trade with the Florida Marlins, was enjoying a fine individual season for Arizona. At the break, White was batting .292 and had 13 home runs, 49 RBIs and 11 stolen bases to go along with his .815 OPS. And let’s face it, with the expansion Diamondbacks 30-58 at the break and already 27 games out of first place, there weren’t other players worthy of the Arizona selection.
That didn’t deter White. The 35-year-old replaced Tony Gwynn in the fifth inning and then got his chance at the plate in the bottom of the frame. Facing Cleveland’s Bartolo Colon, White laced a 3-1 pitch into the gap in left-center field and glided around the bases, sliding into third with a leadoff triple. Two batters later, Barry Bonds of the Giants clubbed a three-run homer, scoring White and St. Louis’ Mark McGwire, to give the National League a 6-5 lead.
White would add two more hits — a single off of Tampa Bay’s Rolando Arrojo in the sixth and a single off of Boston’s Tom Gordon in the ninth. His big night came in a 13-8 loss to the American League.
White is still the only D-backs player to have three hits in an All-Star Game, and only two NL All-Stars have accomplished the feat since: Jose Reyes of the Mets in 2007 and Chipper Jones of the Braves in 2000.
1999: D-backs represented by four All-Stars, two starters
Year two in the D-backs’ history was much different than 1998.
Arizona was aggressive in beefing up its roster for the 1999 season and the results were evident. The D-backs were 48-41 at the All-Star break, just 2.5 games behind the Giants and due to their marked improvement, they landed four players on the National League All-Star team.
Matt Williams (third base) and Jay Bell (second base) both cracked the starting lineup for the game at Fenway Park in Boston. Williams would go 1-for-3 on the night, contributing a leadoff single in the sixth inning against Kansas City’s Jose Rosado. Bell went 0-for-1 with a walk before being replaced by San Francisco’s Jeff Kent in the fifth inning.
Randy Johnson, in his first year with the Diamondbacks, became the club’s first All-Star pitcher. The Big Unit worked a 1-2-3 third inning in relief of starter Curt Schilling of the Philadelphia Phillies. Johnson got Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra to pop out to center, Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. to tap out to first and then struck out Cleveland’s Manny Ramirez to end the frame.
And Luis Gonzalez became a first-time All-Star in his first season in the desert. Gonzalez replaced Colorado’s Larry Walker in the fourth inning and went 1-for-2 at the plate with a double against Baltimore’s Mike Mussina in the fifth inning.
In what has been a familiar result for the D-backs in the All-Star Game, the National League lost, 4-1.
2000: Randy Johnson becomes the first Arizona pitcher to start an All-Star Game
There really wasn’t much Johnson didn’t accomplish during his time as a D-back. Four Cy Youngs, five All-Star appearances, World Series MVP, perfect game — you get it. He also became the first D-backs hurler to start an All-Star Game when he got the honor in the 2000 contest at Turner Field in Atlanta.
Johnson didn’t stick around long, pitching only the first inning. He started by getting Cleveland’s Roberto Alomar to ground to short on the game’s first pitch. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter then doubled to left but was stranded there as Johnson got Bernie Williams to ground out and then struck out Oakland’s Jason Giambi to end the threat.
Steve Finley also made his only All-Star appearance as a D-back in the game. He replaced Gary Sheffield in the seventh inning and had an RBI single off of New York’s Mariano Rivera in the ninth that cut the American League’s lead to 6-3. That’s the way it would end.
By the way, it was the only run Rivera ever yielded in an All-Star Game.
2002: D-backs have a team-record six representatives
Fresh off their first World Series title, the 2002 D-backs were strong in the first half of the season, posting a 51-36 mark at the break, which was good enough for second place in the National League West.
With manager Bob Brenly at the helm of the NL team, Arizona landed six players on the roster, a record number in franchise history.
Curt Schilling became the second Diamondback to be selected as the starting pitcher for the National League. The right-hander would pitch two innings in the contest. He worked a 1-2-3 first inning, striking out Shea Hillenbrand and Alex Rodriguez to end the frame. In the second, he allowed a one-out single to Manny Ramirez, but then got Jorge Posada and Torii Hunter to ground out.
Johnson was selected to the All-Star team for the fourth straight year but opted not to attend and was replaced by Atlanta’s Mike Remlinger.
Gonzalez would make his third appearance for Arizona and he’d go 0-for-1 after pinch-hitting for Pittsburgh pitcher Mike Williams in the third inning.
There was plenty of new All-Star blood for the D-backs as well, with catcher Damian Miller, second baseman Junior Spivey and reliever Byung-Hyun Kim all getting their first (and only) appearances. Miller went 2-for-3 with two doubles after entering the game in the fifth inning. His RBI double off of Chicago’s Mark Buehrle in the fifth extended the NL’s lead to 5-2.
Spivey went 0-for-2 after replacing starting second baseman Jose Vidro.
Kim was roughed up in his stint, giving up three hits and two earned runs in just a third of an inning.
Of course, the 2002 All-Star Game is also infamous for going 11 innings, forcing both Brenly and AL manager Joe Torre to use all of their pitchers. The contest ended in a disappointing 7-7 tie and led to new rules which gave home field advantage in the World Series for the winning league.
2011: D-backs host the All-Star Game at Chase Field
For the first time in the 13-year history of big league baseball in the Valley, the Diamondbacks hosted MLB’s summer spectacle at Chase Field.
Then-manager Kirk Gibson served as a coach under NL skipper Bruce Bochy. Outfielder Justin Upton and catcher Miguel Montero represented the D-backs on the field.
Upton replaced Lance Berkman in the fourth inning and went 0-for-2 on the night. Montero got into the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning and worked with pitchers Joel Hanrahan and Brian Wilson in closing the door on a rare National League win.
The game also featured plenty of booing from the Arizona faithful toward Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder, who didn’t choose Upton for the NL Home Run Derby team the night before. It didn’t bother Fielder, who cracked a three-run homer off of Texas’ C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning and was named the game’s MVP.
Some other D-backs All-Star facts:
• Paul Goldschmidt has made the most All-Star appearances for the Diamondbacks with six. Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson have each received five All-Star nods.
• Gonzalez is the only Arizona outfielder to earn a starting spot. He did so in the 2001 All-Star Game in Seattle. Gonzo also won the Home Run Derby that year.
• Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke (2x), Randy Johnson, Robbie Ray, Curt Schilling, Jose Valverde and Brandon Webb have all earned All-Star invitations but didn’t play in the actual game.
• Steve Finley (2000), Damian Miller (2002) and Luis Gonzalez (2005) are the only D-backs hitters to drive in runs in All-Star competition.
• Patrick Corbin is the only D-backs pitcher to earn a decision in an All-Star Game. He took the loss in 2013.
• Since the formation of the Diamondbacks in 1998, the National League has gone 3-18-1 against the American League in All-Star competition.
• The D-backs have had 25 different players selected as All-Stars since 1998; 15 of them have been one-time All-Stars.
• Arizona has had three or more All-Stars in a single game six times (1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2017, 2018). They’ve had a single All-Star representative eight times (1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2016).
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