Major League Baseball’s biggest names will converge in Seattle for the 93rd edition of the All-Star Game and the third to take place in the Pacific Northwest. The Yankees are sending two All-Stars to the Emerald City for the festivities, and while 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge won’t be available to play, ace Gerrit Cole should pitch and has a case to start the Midsummer Classic as well.
If chosen, Cole would be the first Yankees pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2001, which just so happens to be the last time the event came to Seattle. With Cole, Clemens, and everything else related to the showcase on our minds, we’re going back in the MLB history books today to remember what Yankees have done in past All-Star Games. The 2023 event will be Tuesday, July 11th at 8pm ET on Fox, and the Home Run Derby will be on Monday, July 10th at the same time, but on ESPN.
The All-Star Game dates back to 1933, but since Seattle only had an MLB team in three seasons prior to ‘79, this was the Midsummer Classic’s debut in the city. It was at the old Kingdome, which was the Mariners home until it was blissfully destroyed after the M’s moved out in 1999.
The Yankees were two-time defending World Series champions heading into this All-Star Game, but at 49-43, they merely sat in fourth place in the competitive AL East that year, 11 games behind the eventual AL champion Orioles. Still, they sent four All-Stars to Seattle for the event.
3B Graig Nettles: 1-1, 1B
The slick-fielding third baseman handled his three chances in the field, but he was involved in the most famous play of the game. I can only allot column space on a Yankees site to just how big a superstar Dave Parker was for the Pirates in the ‘70s, but the dude was the man. This was the Cobra’s crowning showcase, and on a Nettles single, the Game MVP threw California’s Brian Downing out at home for his second outfield assist of the game. That kept the game tied at 6-6, and the Senior Circuit scored in the top of the ninth to win.
RF Reggie Jackson: 0-1, IBB
AL/Yankees skipper Bob Lemon called upon Reggie to pinch-hit for pitcher Mark Clear with runners on the corners in the sixth, as even in an AL park, designated hitters were not used in the All-Star Game until 1989. Astros southpaw Joe Sambito got Mr. October to hit into a fielder’s choice at the plate, though he moved to second on the rundown. Jackson was stranded there, and when he hit again in the eighth, he got intentionally walked ahead of Nettles batting in the Parker play. In an exhibition! I don’t care how seriously players used to take this. Boo!!!!!
LHP Ron Guidry: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
Imagine telling someone that a Cy Young Award winner who threw one of the most dominant seasons ever seen would only record one out in the following year’s All-Star Game! Guidry was merely terrific rather than historic in ‘79, so he was only called upon late when Rangers righty Jim Kern loaded the bases. Gator walked in Lee Mazzilli for the eventual winning run before getting future teammate Dave Winfield to ground out, ending the inning. The AL couldn’t bring the tying run across in the bottom of the ninth and Kern got tagged with the loss.
LHP Tommy John: Did not play
The 36-year-old and surgery pioneer pitched in Midsummer Classics before and after ‘79, but he was absent from the box score in this one.
The 2001 Midsummer Classic couldn’t have come at a better time for the Mariners, as they were in the middle of a jaw-dropping 116-win season and got to pull a 2023 Braves by sending eight All-Stars to the festivities in their brand-new ballpark. Unlike the dank Kingdome, then-Safeco Field was a jewel in comparison.
This version of the Yankees was even more accomplished than the ‘79 edition, as they were three-time defending champions and had won four of the last five World Series. They also had a deliciously cruel fate awaiting those remarkable Mariners later in 2001, albeit before their own unfortunate ouster. Manager Joe Torre got to bring seven of his Yankees to Seattle, with Clemens starting for the Junior Circuit.
RHP Roger Clemens (SP): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
En route to a Cy Young Award in 2001, Clemens was arguably not even the best pitcher on his team, but by virtue of a sparkling 12-1 record, he got the nod. But all attention at the start of the game was on the soon-to-retire Cal Ripken Jr., as Alex Rodriguez voluntarily moved over from shortstop to the hot corner to force the Baltimore icon to man the six one last time and receive a huge ovation. Ripken would later bring the crowd to its feet again with a homer off the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park to win All-Star Game MVP.
As for Clemens, he quietly handled a formidable first six National League hitters with ease. Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa were two of the greatest home run hitters to ever live. Larry Walker and Mike Piazza would be enshrined in Cooperstown one day; Todd Helton will probably join them in 2024. Luis Gonzalez won the Home Run Derby the day before and would launch 57 in 2001, his career year. All six went down meekly at the right arm of the Rocket.
LHP Andy Pettitte: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
The good ol’ southpaw Pettitte was the second man to follow Clemens on the AL pitching staff after Seattle’s Freddy Garcia got a crack at it. He allowed a leadoff single to Gonzalez before retiring each of Helton, Bonds, and Sosa. Pettitte even got Bonds to strike out in the middle of his record-setting 73-homer season.
C Jorge Posada: 1-1, 2B
After Iván Rodríguez caught the first five innings, Posada covered the final four. He played his first career All-Star Game the year before but was hitless in two at-bats. The longtime backstop fixed that by launching a double off the Cardinals’ Matt Morris with one out in the seventh. A teammate stranded him; more on that in a bit.
SS Derek Jeter: 1-1, HR, RBI
Jeter won the 2000 All-Star Game MVP in Atlanta with two singles and a double, but he didn’t go deep. The future Yankees captain checked that milestone off with a solo shot off Cubs righty Jon Lieber to start the seventh. It would be the only All-Star dinger of his career. (White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordóñez made it back-to-back two pitches later.)
CF Bernie Williams: 0-1
Bernie made five-straight All-Star Games from 1997 through 2001, and alas, his finale wasn’t one to remember. He had his teammate Posada in scoring position in the seventh, but could only move him to third on a grounder.
LHP Mike Stanton: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
The venerable setup man Stanton made the only All-Star appearance of his career in 2001, but for reasons entirely beyond his control, boy was it memorable. The lefty entered in relief of Paul Quantrill with runners on the corners and San Diego’s Ryan Klesko lifted a sacrifice fly for the Senior Circuit’s sole run of the night. Next up was the elder Vladimir Guerrero, and poor old honorary third-base coach Tommy Lasorda had no idea what was coming.
There’s a reason why this is one of the all-time iconic MLB bloopers. Amazing. (Stanton got Vladdy to fly out to left to finish the sixth.)
RHP Mariano Rivera: Did not play
The greatest closer in MLB history unsurprisingly registered more career Midsummer Classic saves than anyone else (four), but due to a sore ankle, Rivera had to take a skip in 2001. Instead, Seattle’s own Kazuhiro Sasaki recorded the final three outs in a 3-1 American League victory.