Major League Baseball hit the re-set button on the season Sunday with the final regular season games before the four-day All-Star break.
While the chosen and the nominated will be competing in the mid-summer classic at Marlins Park in Miami, the rest can heal injuries, relax and re-focus for the stretch drive.
A total of 64 major leaguers won’t get a complete four days rest, as 32 All-Stars from the American League and the same number from the National League will have varying (or no) impact on the big game.
Some of those players might even have a big moment or two. Being the best of the best isn’t just reserved for the playoffs.
There have been some indelible moments in the game’s long history, courtesy of giants like Babe Ruth, Carl Hubbell, Stan Musial and Ichiro Suzuki.
Here are 15 of those moments that were rather memorable, in no particular order.
15. Babe Ruth Hits First Ever All-Star Game Homer – 1933
In 1933, the World’s Fair was host to the first MLB All-Star game, which was intended to be one-and-done event. Assembled at Chicago’s Comiskey Park for the National League were all-timers Carl Hubbell, Pie Traynor and Frankie Frisch. Over on the American League side were Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Babe Ruth. It would be Ruth, later to be the all-time home run leader, who would provide the first big moment. In the bottom of the third inning, with the AL leading 1-0 and Detroit’s Charlie Gehringer on first base, Ruth stepped to the plate and launched a pitch from St. Louis’ Bill Hallahan into the right field stands for the first tater in All-Star Game history. The American League hung on for a 4-2 victory and due to the success of the game it became a fixture on the league calendar.
14. Mike Trout Gets Base Hit In First At-Bat Of Five Consecutive All-Star Games – 2016
Mark our words, Mike Trout will be a Hall of Famer. This year marks the two-time AL MVP’s sixth straight appearance in the All-Star Game and may provide a platform for him to extend an astounding streak. In 2016, Trout stroked a single in his first at-bat at the mid-summer classic, the fifth time in a row he had done so. Even more amazing, in his first four All-Star games, he hit a single in 2012, a double in 2013 and a triple in 2014 before homering in 2015 — an All-Star cycle, so to speak. Whether he’s been voted into the game or named as a reserve, Trout has been a deserving attendee and holds a lifetime .462 average (6-for-13) in the game. With a base hit in his first trip to the plate this year he could continue making history.
13. Carl Hubbell Fans Five Straight Batters – 1934
In 1934, a year after Babe Ruth homered in the first ever All-Star game in Chicago, future Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Hubbell established a record for strikeout proficiency at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Hubbell, of the host New York Giants, was in the midst of second consecutive 20-win season (he had five in a row from 1933 to 1937), was tabbed to face an American League starting nine who would all one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame. After Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers and Heinie Manush of the Washington Senators reached base in the first inning, Hubbell struck out, in order, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. In the top of second, he fanned Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. The Yankees Bill Dickey broke the string with a single, but Hubbell came back to send Lefty Grove down swinging, too.
12. Ichiro Suzuki Strokes First Ever All-Star Game Inside-The-Park Home Run – 2007
Like Mike Trout, long-time MLB outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will someday be enshrined in Cooperstown. The 43-year-old, still banging out hits for the Miami Marlins, has 3,054 hits, which is remarkable considering he didn’t begin his career until the age of 27 in 2001. A 10-time All-Star, Ichiro made a rare feat at the 2007 game at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Then 33 and with the Seattle Mariners, Ichiro came to the plate in the top of the fifth inning in a 0-0 game and Baltimore’s Brian Roberts on first. On the first pitch from San Diego’s Chris Young, Ichiro slammed one into the deepest part of the stadium, known for its odd angles. Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. gave chase positioned himself to take the sailing ball off the fence. But, it took a crazy bounce and after finally picking it up, was too late with a throw to home. With that, Suzuki hit the first inside-the-parker in the annals of the All-Star game.
11. Ted Williams Smokes Game-Winning Homer – 1941
The 1941 baseball season was a magical one. By the time the All-Star game rolled around, Joe DiMaggio was riding a 48-game hit streak and Ted Williams was hitting a lofty .405. The AL All-Stars, featuring Boston’s Williams and New York’s DiMaggio, were behind 5-3 to the NL heading into the bottom of the ninth at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. DiMaggio was on first after the senior circuit All-Stars couldn’t turn a game-ending double play with the bases loaded, Ken Keltner scoring on the play to trim the lead to 5-4. With two on and two out, Williams strode to the plate against Chicago Cubs pitcher Claude Passeau. The Splendid Splinter promptly sent a Passeau pitch deep into the right field stands, ending the classic on the first ever walk-off home run. After that game, DiMaggio would end his record hitting streak at 56 games and Williams would hit .406, the last ever to eclipse the .400 mark.
10. Cal Ripken Homers In Final All-Star Appearance – 2001
Players of Cal Ripken Jr.’s stature and ability don’t come along all that often. When he announced in 2001 that he was retiring, he was given a warm send-off in every park he visited with the Baltimore Orioles that year. It was fitting, too, that he would do something special at his 19th and final All-Star game appearance at Safeco Field in Seattle. Before his heroics, Ripken Jr. was honored by his AL teammates, including shortstop Alex Rodriguez, then of the Mariners. A-Rod insisted that for his final All-Star go around, Ripken should trade places with him, even though he’d been playing third base for some time. Then, in the bottom of the third inning, Ripken hit the first pitch offered by the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park into the cheap seats, giving the AL a 1-0 lead in a game they would win 1-0. Ripken went out a hero and was named game MVP for the second time in his Hall of Fame career.
9. All-Star Game Color Barrier Broken – 1949
It would take two more years after Jackie Robinson broke the major league’s color barrier in 1947 before the league had an African-American play in an All-Star game. The 1949 contest at Ebbets Field (home of the Brooklyn Dodgers) featured Dodgers Robinson, catcher Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe playing for the NL and OF Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians in the AL line-up. Campanella and Doby did not record a hit in three combined at-bats, while Newcombe was roughed up for three hits and two earned runs in 2.2 innings of work in a game the AL would win 11-7. Robinson, who so famously broke the long-standing barrier in 1947, was a key player for the NL side, going 1-for-4 with a double, a walk and three runs scored.
8. National League Ends Horrid Losing Streak – 2010
In 1996, the National League beat the American League 6-0 in the All-Star Game played at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It would be 14 years and 13 All-Star game losses (well, there was one tie in 2002) before the senior circuit would emerge victorious again. During that lousy streak, the gurus at major league baseball deemed that starting in 2003, the winner of the mid-summer classic determined home field advantage for the World Series. So, in 2010, after seven straight seasons of AL dominance, the National League finally broke through at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. In a game dominated by pitchers, the NL All-Stars were down 1-0 entering the top of the seventh. They soon loaded the bases and then game MVP Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves ripped a bases-clearing double to give his team a lead they would never relinquish in a 3-1 win.
7. Pete Rose Drills Ray Fosse At Home Plate – 1970
Charlie Hustle never took a game off — just ask poor catcher Ray Fosse about that. In 1970, Pete Rose was playing in his fifth All-Star game, which took place at Rose’s home park in Cincinnati, Riverfront Stadium. The game itself would go into extra innings, with the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 12th. Rose, who would lead the NL in hits that year with 205, singled with two outs off California’s Clyde Wright. The Dodgers Billy Grabarkewitz also singled to put two on. The Chicago White Sox Jim Hickman followed suit, sending a single to center field. Rose attempted to score from second, but the throw from Kansas City Royals outfielder Amos Otis to Cleveland Indians’ catcher Fosse was well in time to get him. Undeterred, Rose barreled Fosse over, dislodging the ball for the game’s winning run. Fosse, who suffered a dislocated shoulder on the play, didn’t get an apology from Rose, but rather this quotable gem: “I just want to get to that plate as quickly as I can. Besides, nobody told me they changed it to girls’ softball between third and home.”
6. Pedro Martinez Sets AL Strikeout Record – 1999
After a pre-game ceremony that honored the all-century team at Fenway Park — including the great Ted Williams — Boston’s Pedro Martinez would turn in a pitching performance for the ages. Martinez was leading baseball in wins with 15, while fanning a ridiculous 184 batters in just 132.2 innings of work. It would be that strikeout mastery that would serve him well against a NL line-up stacked with big boppers. In the first inning, Pedro made Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa all look mortal on strikeouts. In the top of the second, he got Mark McGwire out on strikes, putting him in line to tie Carl Hubbell’s record. But, Matt Williams reached on an error before Martinez recorded his fifth strikeout, fanning Jeff Bagwell on a nasty breaking ball. Two innings and five strikeouts earned him MVP honors, as well as the AL mark for All-Star game Ks.
5. Reggie Jackson Launches Longest Home Run In All-Star History – 1971
Long before Reggie Jackson was “Mr. October” he established himself as an all-star legend. Reggie was a reserve on the 1971 AL All-Stars as a member of the Oakland A’s and was inserted into the line-up as a pinch hitter for teammate Vida Blue in the bottom of the third inning at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. With Pittsburgh’s mercurial Dock Ellis (remember the LSD no-hitter?) on the mound and a man on base, Jackson was looking for his pitch, and he got it. He swung and made contact with that offering, sending the ball sailing into the light standards at the stadium. It is estimated the ball traveled 520 feet — the longest tape measure shot in All-Star history.
4. Randy Johnson Turns Larry Walker Around – 1997
The mid-summer classic at Jacobs Field in Cleveland was memorable as mostly a pitchers’ duel — and some comedy, courtesy of NL All-Star Larry Walker. The big Canadian was a starter for the senior circuit that year and in his prime one of the best left-handed hitters in the game. He was in the midst of a season that would see him hit a lofty .366 and early in the game he would face Seattle Mariners ace Randy “Big Unit” Johnson. The big southpaw promptly sent a fastball sailing over Walker’s head. Unlike former Philadelphia Phillies slugger John Kruk, who faced the same situation against Johnson at the 1993 game and then timidly struck out, Walker employed another tactic. He turned his helmet around and then switched sides of the plate, getting a huge cheer from the Cleveland crowd and giggles from players and coaches on both sides of the field. He only took one pitch from the right side, then drew a walk.
3. Fred Lynn Smokes First All-Star Grand Slam – 1993
In 1983, baseball celebrated the 50th anniversary of the All-Star game by bringing it back to Comiskey Park in Chicago, site of the first mid-summer classic. The National League came into the game not having lost since 1971 and having won 19 of the previous 20 contests. They were looking to keep the dominance going and held a 2-1 advantage going into the bottom of the third inning. Boston’s Jim Rice got things going for the AL, ripping a homer to deep left to knot the score. Then Kansas City’s George Brett tripled and scored on a Dave Winfield (Yankees) single. Cleveland’s Manny Trillo followed with a single, as did the Angels’ Rod Carew, scoring Winfield. With Trillo and Carew on base, Milwaukee’s Robin Yount got an intentional walk. Enter California’s Fred Lynn, who was appearing in his ninth straight all-star game. He pounded a pitch off San Francisco’s Atlee Hammaker for the first grand slam in all-star history. The AL emphatically ended the NL’s streak with a 13-3 victory.
2. Rod Carew Pokes Two Triples – 1978
There were no hitters more dominant in the 1970s than Panamanian native Rod Carew. The slender infielder won six AL batting titles that decade (seven overall), including four in a row from 1972 to 1975. He even flirted with the magical .400 once, leading the American League with a .388 average in 1977 while with the Minnesota Twins. No coincidence then that he was an all-star in all but one of his 19 seasons in the league (he failed to make it in his last year, 1985). In 1978, the Twins’ Carew was a member of the AL squad in the game played at San Diego Stadium. Carew faced a very familiar pitcher, Vida Blue of the San Francisco Giants, in his first two at bats that day. Blue, who faced Carew regularly when he pitched for nearly a decade with Oakland, surrendered 16 hitst to Carew in 45 plate appearances. This game would be no different, as Carew put his name in the record books by stroking a pair of triples, the first player ever to accomplish the feat.
1. Dave Parker Shows Off His Cannon Of An Arm – 1979
It’s a shame, really, that former longtime MLB outfielder Dave Parker isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Consider these career numbers and accolades: career .290 hitter; 2,712 hits; 339 homers; 1,493 RBI; two-time batting champion; 1978 AL MVP; seven-time All-Star; three-time Gold Glover. Speaking of Gold Gloves, Parker had an absolute gun for an arm, leading the AL in outfield assists with 26 in 1977 and finishing his career with 137, which is 21st most among right fielders all-time. So it was at the 1979 All-Star game in Seattle that Pittsburgh’s Parker was able to put his famed appendage to use. In the bottom of the eighth and the score tied 6-6 and California’s Brian Downing on second with two outs, the Yankees’ Graig Nettles lashed a single in Parker’s direction in right. Normally, a runner would score with two away on a hit like that, except it was Parker fielding that ball. He picked it up cleanly and threw a strike on the fly to NL catcher Gary Carter, who tagged Downing out to preserve the tie. The NL would eventually win it, 7-6 and Parker was named MVP.