I’ve got to admit that I will be a tad-bit bummed when I watch the MLB All-Star Game on TV Tuesday night.
Bummed that I can’t watch it in person at Target Field. After all, I was at the last one held in Minneapolis in 1985.
Although it was 29 years ago and I can’t remember what I had for lunch today, I fondly remember getting the opportunity to watch an All-Star Game in person. Next to a World Series or Super Bowl, nothing tops that in my book. It’s the best professional all-star game hands down.
I had won the opportunity to purchase two tickets to the game in some sort of contest. It's probably the only thing I have ever won. But they were something like $80 each, so that wasn’t too bad (only four days of pay back then).
Living in Worland, Wyo., at the time, I pounced on the opportunity. I grabbed my buddy, Bob, -- I think his name was Bob -- and we drove out to the Twin Cities with a layover at my parents’ ranch near Buffalo Gap.
We cut it a little close by arriving about two hours before the game and after getting lost in the parking lot of a gas station, I turned the city driving over to Bob.
The seats were nosebleed – two rows from the very the top of the right field stands in the Metrodome. Anything hit to right field was lost well before the warning track.
But I was at the MLB All-Star game and any seat was good enough for me.
The National League won the game 6-1 and the only Twins’ player who played in the game was then outfielder and current hitting coach Tom Brunansky. Ironically, it was the first year of the Home Run Derby and Brunansky hit a home run to help the AL win the head-to-head competition (it was team, not individual).
Naturally, we didn’t go out a day early for it as no one knew it would take off in popularity like it has. Whoops.
Although there was just one Twin in the game – Kirby Puckett was just in the second season of his Hall of Fame career – there were a few soon-to-be Twins who would play a big part in the team winning World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 – Jeff Reardon, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris.
To be honest, it was somewhat of a boring All-Star Game as pitcher LaMarr Hoyt of the Padres was the MVP and he really didn’t do anything but throw a couple of shutout innings to start the game.
Maybe the highlight of the game, however, came when Nolan Ryan knocked both Dave Winfield and Ricky Henderson down with high-and-tight pitches, which was basically unheard of for an All-Star Game. It was just the way Ryan pitched, he later explained, and he wasn’t changing the way he pitched just because it was an exhibition.
The game also featured 15 future Hall of Famers -- Ryan, Winfield, Henderson, Blyleven, the late Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr., Goose Gossage, George Brett, Eddie Murray, Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg, Paul Molitor, Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk. And there was Pete Rose, who should be in the Hall of Fame.
That was worth the drive and price of admission alone.
How many Future Hall of Famers are playing this year? Derek Jeter, for sure. Also likely, Miguel Cabrera. Other than Jeter and Cabrera, who knows? There's a lot of good, young talent, but time will tell if they are Hall of Famers. We'll see in about 20 years.
After a quick trip to northwestern Wisconsin to visit relatives, we swung back and saw a Twins game before heading back to Wyoming.
I admit I was day-dreaming about the possibility of seeing this year’s All-Star Game since the day it was announced. Somehow I was going to get there.
Well, I guess I better stop day-dreaming. There’s always the chance in another 20-30 years … whenever Minneapolis gets the game again.
I’ll see if Bob wants to go again. I think his name was Bob.