The Yankees went into the 1998 All-Star break with a hard-to-top 61-20 record. It felt like they could do no wrong, and it came as no surprise that this historically great team would feature its fair share of participants to the All-Star Game. The Bombers would send five representatives, shortstop Derek Jeter (his first), center fielder and eventual batting champion Bernie Williams, right fielder Paul O’Neill, AL starting pitcher David Wells, and surprise third-base standout Scott Brosius. It would be an exciting slugfest out in Colorado, and a few Yankees made their impact known on the big stage.
July 7: American League 13, National League 8 (Box score)
Record: 61-20, .753 (Up 11.0)
As mentioned, big lefty David Wells had the honor of starting this game for the American League, and it wasn’t without reason. He had maintained a solid 3.75 ERA over 112.2 innings, which of course included his perfect game in May. Wells did everything you could ask for against a literal All-Star lineup. In the bottom of the first, he set down Craig Biggio, Tony Gwynn, and Mark McGwire in order. In the second, he followed it with another inning against the minimum, with Barry Bonds’ walk erased on a Chipper Jones double play before Mike Piazza popped out.
The southpaw would be replaced by Roger Clemens in the third, but “Boomer” did about as well as one could fare on one of the game’s biggest stages — especially at elevation in Denver. (Amusingly, Wells also got an at-bat, in which he grounded out against Greg Maddux.)
The scoring kicked off in the bottom of the third, with a Gwynn two-run single that gave the NL the first lead. The Junior Circuit countered in the fourth, however, with Tom Glavine on the hill to replace rotation-mate Maddux. A Cal Ripken Jr. two-run double, a bases-loaded walk to Ken Griffey Jr., and a Juan González sac fly gave the AL a 4-2 lead. Minnesota’s Brad Radke replaced Clemens and also allowed a run, this time on Walt Weiss’ single that helped the NL cut the deficit to one through four frames.
Future Yankee Alex Rodriguez led off the fifth with a solo homer to bring the AL edge to two, but in the NL’s turn, Bonds deposited an offering from a young Bartolo Colón into the seats for a three-run blast to flip the game upside down and give the Senior Circuit a 6-5 advantage.
With Montreal’s Ugueth Urbina on the hill, the American Leaguers got back to work in the sixth. With Jeter up in his first plate appearance, a passed ball allowed Roberto Alomar to score and tie the game. Although Jeter would strike out, Urbina unloaded a wild pitch to the next batter, that allowed another run to score and put the AL up 7-6, followed by an Iván Rodríguez single to make it 8-6. Alomar would add to the lead in the seventh, by wrapping a solo homer down the right field line off of Trevor Hoffman.
The AL added another in the eighth, but were outdone in the inning by a two-run single off the bat of Greg Vaughn. It would have been more for the NL, had Paul O’Neill not made an excellent throw home to stop another run from scoring.
Headed into the ninth, it was 10-8 American League.
Brosius led off the final frame with the lone Yankee hit of the game, a single up the middle, and would follow it by stealing second. He was then pushed home by a Ray Durham single. They would add two more on a Manny Ramirez sac fly and a Rafael Palmeiro single to make the score 13-8 — very fitting for Coors.
Possibly as a result of his April injury, the well-qualified Mariano Rivera wasn’t picked for the AL squad in 1998, so the Angels’ Troy Percival came on to protect the five-run lead. The righty would do just that, securing a victory for the Junior Circuit.
Wells had his excellent start, while Brosius and O’Neill made their presence felt either at the plate or in the field. Jeter went 0-for-1, and Williams was out of commission. In a game meant to spotlight the sport’s greatest talents, the league’s best team did its share of shining.