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July 7


Coors Field

Nat’l League

Am. League


Bartolo Colon

Ugueth Urbina


Barry Bonds

Alex Rodriguez

Robby Alomar,Jr.

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Manny Ramirez

Rafael Palmeiro

Alex Rodriguez

Cal Ripken

Roger Clemens

Greg Maddux

Barry Bonds

Mark McGwire

Tony Gwynn

Ivan Rodriguez

Mike Piazza

Gary Sheffield

Juan Gonzalez

Jim Thome

John Wetteland

Highlights:  Although represented by a small contingency of the group at large, the three Hot Stove League members who attended the 1998 All Star game (B.T., Stretch and Skipper), watched enthusiastically as the American League put a pounding on the Senior Circuit to the tune of 13-8.  The game began with David Wells on the mound for the American League and Greg Maddux on the hill for the Nationals.  Wells shut down the Nationals for two innings without giving up a hit, yielding only a walk to Barry Bonds who was subsequently erased in a double play.  Maddux gave up three hits and a walk in his two innings on the mound, but managed to escape unscathed.  The scoring began in the bottom of the 3rd as Clemens replaced Wells, walked Larry Walker, gave up a single to Al Weiss, saw Glavine sacrifice the two of them over to second and third, hit Biggio to load the bases, and then gave up a single to Tony Gwynn to score two runs.  Clemens then knuckled down and struck out McGwire and got Bonds to fly out to left. 


The American Leaguers answered in the 4th with 4 runs off new pitcher Tom Glavine, on the strength of singles by A-Rod and I-Rod, a double by Ripken, a single by Easley, walks to Alomar and Griffey, and then a sacrifice fly by Juan Gonzalez off new pitcher Kevin Brown.  Bonds reclaimed the lead for the Nationals in the bottom of the 5th with a 3-run homer off Bartolo Colon, but the American Leaguers stormed back with 3 runs in the top of the sixth, one run in each of the 7th and 8th innings, and then three runs in the 9th off reliever Rob Nen.  A fantastic game for the mid-season showpiece of the majors. 





The 1998 HSL Trip, while short on quantity, was high on quality. McBlunder and I – keeping our streaks intact – joined with B.T. in the Mile High City for the All-Star extravaganza. On Monday night we attended the Home Run Derby, won by Junior after his dramatic last-minute entry into the contest. On Tuesday, we attended the Biggest Show of All, watching the American Leaguers best the Senior Circuit by a score of 13 to 8. More on the All-Star contest later as time permits, but for now I will merely mention that it was positively thrilling to watch seven sure First Ballot Hall-of-Fame players (Maddux, Griffey, McGwire, Gwynn, Bonds, Ripken and Clemens) and several likely HOFers (A-Rod, I-Rod, Piazza, Biggio, Glavine and Galarraga) on the field at the same time. Seeing Bonds go Yard with a dramatic upper deck 3-run homer and watching Maddux work out of a bases-loaded jam were also moments that I will not soon forget.


Sincere regrets that more of you could not make it to the big game. I hope that perhaps a second league junket – possibly to St. Louis in September to watch Big Mac chase the record – is in the cards (no pun intended).




Now that I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on our trip to Denver for the All-Star game, allow me to share with you a few memories, observations and random thoughts. Not ever having been to the Biggest Show before, or even having talked to someone who had been, it was hard to know what to expect as the Elongated One and I drove westward on the morning of Monday, July 6th. Yet the feeling of excitement was palpable as we neared the Mile High City. When we arrived at about noon, the city did not disappoint, decked out in full regalia, downtown Denver abuzz with excitement, the LoDo district taking on the atmosphere of a carnival. Excitement aside, both McBlunder and I had a bit of uneasiness about us since we still did not have our tickets in hand, but were scheduled to rendezvous with the seller at the Westin Hotel early that afternoon. To put this in historical context, it might be remembered that a few years back during an HSL trip to Chicago, we questioned McBlunder’s judgment when our fearless leader allowed that that the trustworthy African-American entrepreneur standing across the street was not only standing across the street, but was holding our tickets and our money across the street. Amateur hour, McBlunder. In my case, the seller not only held our precious tickets and my bank-certified funds, he held them in an entirely different state.


In any event, McBlunder and I pulled into town and parked our vehicle, and the first thing we see not 30 feet away is Jim Thome bopping down the streets of downtown Denver with his parents, clad in a godawful floral print shirt, looking every bit like Jon Voight stepping off the bus in Manhattan in Midnight Cowboy. I mean, this boy is so country-looking he might very well be from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or some such place. Rather than to give him a bull rush for an autograph, McBlunder and I just stood and stared, wondering how many other stars we would be able to see up close. It was a tiny bit unsettling to arrive at our appointed meeting place at the Westin Hotel, the concierge’s desk, only to learn that Madam Concierge had not only never heard of the person I sent the money to for the tickets, but her name was something quite different than that which had been told me by the putative seller. Do you suppose Underbelly would have been a bit nervous about this transaction? Yes, and so were we. However, after anguishing for something like thirty minutes about how the seller could be late for such an important meeting, he eventually arrived and the precious ducats were soon in hand. After a brewskie or two to calm our jangled nerves, it was off to the ballpark for the celebrity hitting contest, workout day, and of course the much-anticipated Home Run Derby. The celebrity contest was a bit of an oddity, in which four so-called celebrities with seemingly little or nothing in common with the All-Stars or each other teamed up with a current and former major leaguer to hit batting practice baseballs. Well, okay, I guess I can see Kevin Costner being invited, as the star of two of the best baseball movies ever made, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. And I could probably even be persuaded that having Tim McGraw there, as the son of former major leaguer Tug McGraw and the spouse of the country chick who sang the National Anthem, made sense. But why they had the Jewish guy who has the lead in The Single Guy on the ticket, and the fourth guy, whom I can’t even remember, is beyond me.


Tell you what, though. It was fun seeing Dave Kingman knock a few out of the park during this celebrity contest, even if it was against batting practice pitching. The guy might be 50 years old or so, but he’s in such great shape he looks like he could step right back in and throw fear into one or two of today’s pitchers. Watching him take a few of his monster cuts, it’s not hard to see how this guy hit 400-and-some career dingers, even with a career .250 batting average. After the celebrity contest, the real major leaguers took batting practice, which was good for lots of oooohs and ahhhhs. During BP, Big Mac (McGwire, not McBlunder) lifted one entirely out of Coors Field, traveling an unmeasured distance of at least 500 feet. The Home Run Derby was terrific, although it failed to live up to its billing since McGwire did not survive the qualifying round. Nevertheless, there were plenty of thrills as the contestants (Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones, Moises Alou, Vinny Castilla, and Mark McGwire in the NL; and Damien Easley, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Thome and Junior in the AL) tried to outdo each other with their mammoth blasts. Thome and Griffey hit some awesome blasts into the right field upper deck, and Vinny hit some monster shots into the left field bleachers which quite naturally thrilled the home town crowd. McGwire hit one to center field that nearly made it into the Rock Pile, and was estimated at something like 510 feet. Although a bit overblown and stretched out a bit longer than necessary, the Derby was definitely an event to see. Perhaps the funnest part of watching it was seeing all of the celebrities milling around on the field – people within the game and without – as they schmoozed the players and each other. Some of the notables, besides Costner and McGraw (I don’t consider The Single Guy to be notable), were: Stuart Scott, Chris Berman, and Charlie Steiner from ESPN; Keith Oberman, formerly of ESPN but now of The Big Flop; Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press; the black chick from ER who has AIDS (who, by the way, sang a stirring rendition of Oh Canada the following evening which would have sent shivers down Itchie’s spine); Bob Costas; Joe Garagiola; Gene Budig; Leonard Coleman; democratic strategist James Carville (even more frightening in person than on TV, but damnit, a good Democrat); and many more.


I almost forgot to mention shaking Costas’ hand on the escalator at the Westin Hotel during our ticket rendezvous and the proud moment when he told me I really wasn’t such a "schmuck."


And I almost forgot to mention what was perhaps McBlunder’s favorite event of the pregame festivities, the tug-of-war between the players’ children and the collective team mascots, won by the children, to McBlunder’s great surprise and chagrin. When I commented that, "It doesn’t get any better than this," as the mascots took the field, McBlunder’s response – "You got that right" – said it all.




The game itself was not anticlimactic, as one might imagine, although the last couple of innings dragged on a bit. Watching Senator star Greg Maddux facing the best and the brightest of the American League was as big a thrill as any baseball fan could hope for. Seeing him work his way out of a jam and his coolness under fire only added to the experience. I can’t honestly say that watching David Wells throw for the Junior Circuit gave me the same sort of thrill, although watching HUB (short for "The Human Unmade Bed") pitch in such a setting had its own attraction. Seeing Roger Clemens pitch, just a few days after recording his 3,000th career strikeout, was exhilarating. Watching Cal almost go yard (settling for a double) after being dissed by the press, and seeing Bonds go Upper Deck were awesome. The game itself, recorded in the box score which follows, was a see-saw contest if not a pitcher’s duel. The 13-to-8 final tally in favor of the Junior Circuit was the largest combined score in All-Star game history, which should come as no surprise since the game was played at spacious Coors Field.


About the only mar on the game was some rather raggedy fielding, although it should be noted that the official scorer recorded but one error, which I attribute to a serious case of superstar butt-kissing or orders from the Commissioner’s office.


After the game, our brush with celebrities continued at the Chophouse next to the stadium, as I had the good fortune to use the urinal right next to Dutch Dalton. And yes, his ex-playmate, ex-wife did love him for his money. All in all, well worth the price of admission.