With the 2014 All-Star Game coming up next Tuesday in Minneapolis, it seemed apropos to take a look back at the great Yankee All-Star performances of the past. Let's start back at the beginning, in 1933, when the first All-Star Game in MLB history was held.
1933 - Ruth hits the first homer in All-Star Game history
The first game was held in Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox, and the AL beat the NL 4–2. The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth himself, went two-for-four and hit the first home run in All-Star history (because of course he did), a booming two-run blast to deep right field that put the AL up 3–0. Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez threw three scoreless innings to earn the first "W" in the history of the Midsummer Classic, and even helped his own cause by hitting an RBI single in the second inning that opened the scoring. Ruth made another memorable play later in the game - this time with his glove. In the top of the eighth, with the AL clinging to a two run lead, Ruth robbed Chick Hafey of what would've been a two-run (and game tying) homer with a leaping grab in right.
1937 - Lou Gehrig finally finds success
After a few unimpressive All-Star Games from 1933-1936, the Iron Horse finally busted out in 1937 in DC's old Griffith Stadium. In his final All-Star start, Gehrig went two-for-four with a double, a homer, and four runs batted in, helping the American League secure an 8–3 victory over Joe Medwick, the great Dizzy Dean, and the National League. Gomez also started this game (he made seven straight All-Star teams between 1933-1939) and picked up his third All-Star Game win, which remains a major league record to this day.
1949 All Star Game - Joe DiMaggio proves he's still got it
The 1949 All-Star Game was one of the most important in the history of the game because, for the first time, African-American players were selected for the team. It also happened to contain one of the greatest All-Star showings ever from a New York Yankee. That Yankee was Joe DiMaggio, who wasn't even supposed to play. Now, I know what you're thinking - why was the great DiMaggio not going to be an All-Star? Well, he wasn't as young as he once was, and he'd been battling injuries all year. He had barely even played that season, and accordingly, the fans didn't vote him onto the team. After manager Lou Boudreau added him as a reserve, starter Tommy Henrich hurt his knee and DiMaggio snuck into the starting lineup, but did it ever pay off. DiMaggio helped lead the American League to an 11–7 victory, hitting a single, a double, scoring a run, and knocking in three more. While the game itself was a bit sloppy (six combined errors were committed between the teams), DiMaggio proved that he still had it, even slightly hampered and just two years from retirement.
2000 - Derek Jeter becomes the first Yankee All-Star Game MVP
While plenty (pleeeeeeenty) of Yankees have made All-Star teams in the fifty-one years between 1949 and 2000, and plenty of them played well on those teams - Mickey Mantle had some good All-Star showings in the 1950s, and Dave Winfield actually had identical stats at the plate in 1983 as Jeter would wind up with in the 2000 game, though he wouldn't win an award for it as his performance was overshadowed by Fred Lynn hitting the only grand slam in ASG history - none of them really stood out. Derek Jeter's All-Star performance in 2000 stands out. Originally selected as an reserve, an injury to Alex Rodriguez allowed AL manager Joe Torre to insert his young shortstop into the starting lineup, and Jeter rewarded him with a three-for-three performance. He hit a first-inning double off Randy Johnson, then smacked two singles off Kevin Brown and Al Leiter, eventually ending up with two runs batted in and one run scored. For his performance, Jeter became the first Yankee named All-Star Game MVP, and the choice ended up being fairly obvious - he was the only AL player with multiple hits, and none of the American League pitchers were especially dominant that day.
2008 - Old Yankee Stadium hosts its final All-Star Game
2008 marked the last season of baseball played in "The House that Ruth Built," as the under-construction New Yankee Stadium would be ready for the 2009 season. In honor and reverence to the old stadium, 2008's All-Star Game was of course held there, and boy, did old Yankee Stadium play host to one hell of a Midsummer Classic. The game lasted 15 innings, with the AL eventually squeaking out a 4-3 win after Michael Young hit a sacrifice fly off then-Phillies closer Brad Lidge in the bottom of the inning, scoring Justin Morneau. Because the old Yankee Stadium didn't already have enough history, this game tied the record for longest All-Star game by innings, and set the record for longest All-Star game by time (four hours and 50 minutes). Afterward Jeter said, "It seemed like the Stadium didn't want it to end. That's what we were talking about. It just wanted baseball to continue and I thought that was fitting." Fitting indeed.
2013 - Goodbye to Mo
Before we had Derek Jeter's Farewell Tour, we had Mariano Rivera's. As spring training in 2013 ramped up, Rivera announced he would retire at the conclusion of the season, and while he sadly didn't get one last taste of October baseball, every stadium he visited treated him to amazing ovations across the country, and his final All-Star Game was no exception. While he wasn't presented with any mementos like a black cowboy hat with matching boots, or a somewhat creepy sand sculpture - and while he was called in to pitch the eighth inning, not the ninth - he did receive a terrific reception when his time finally came. As "Enter Sandman" boomed across the ballpark, Rivera trotted out onto an empty diamond while the other All-Stars remained in their dugouts giving Mo his moment so that they and the raucous crowd could show their appreciation for the greatest closer of all time. Rivera was named the game's MVP, joining Jeter as the only Yankee to ever receive the honor, but the rousing reception he received (the players' reactions are awesome) is what made this a truly special moment. Miss you, Mo.
Obviously one more great moment will be added to the list this year when Derek Jeter makes his final All-Star appearance next week. Hopefully, it will be just as emotional as Rivera's final farewell was, and perhaps he can conjure up some magic a la 2001 Cal Ripken. It's sure to be a fun night of baseball, as the Yankees will be represented by the Captain and Dellin Betances (Masahiro Tanaka was voted in, but he is, soul-crushingly, now injured).
What is your favorite moment from a past or present Yankee in an All-Star Game? Any big moments I missed? Let us know in the comments!