20 years ago today, on July 12, 1994, the 65th Major League Baseball All Star Game was held at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. While it had all the bells and whistles of any modern day Midsummer Classic, it also had one of the best finishes in any All Star Game over the last two decades.
Since the game in Pittsburgh, there has been a baseball strike, Interleague play, and a tie at the 2002 All Star Game in Milwaukee that lead to the current rule that the winning league's team gets home field in the World Series.
The only other All Star Game since 1994 that could rival this one would be the 2008 All Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium that went 15 innings, with the American League winning 1-0. Goes to show you it's hard to find a game that compares to the '94 game in Pittsburgh. If you enjoy pitching matchups, you might have hated the one we're gonna talk about here.
The Place: Three Rivers Stadium
It was the second time that Major League Baseball held the midsummer classic at Three Rivers Stadium. By 1994, the concrete, cookie cutter stadiums were slowly becoming a thing of the past. The stadium met the blasts of dynamite on a cold, sunny February morning in 2001. Not the best place to watch a baseball game, but people bought seats in the last row of the 600 level just to say they were there.
The First Pitch: Willie Stargell
Only 15 years removed from their last World Series title, the man who was the anchor of that '79 team was the right choice.
Your National Anthem Singer: Meat Loaf
Probably one of the best renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner" ever done at a baseball game. Meat Loaf may not have the looks of a rock star, but he can sure sing like one.
Your Starting Lineups
What made it great?
There were numerous lead changes in this All Star Game.
The National League took an early 4-1 lead, but the American League scored three runs in the top of the sixth to tie it 4-4. The National League retook the lead 5=4 in the bottom half of the inning. The American League took 7-5 lead with 3 runs in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the National League avoided a double play when American League third baseman Scott Cooper hesitated on the throw to second base, leaving the N.L. with a runner on first base.
Pinch hitter Fred McGriff of the Atlanta Braves came to the plate and hit a game-tying home run to tie the game 7-7. The game was off to extra innings.
In the bottom of the tenth, the late Tony Gwynn hit a lead-off single. Montreal's Moises Alou then hit a double. Gwynn rounded third and was waved home, leading to a dramatic play at the plate. It wasn't Rose barreling over Ray Fosse at the 1970 All Star Game, but it was still exciting as Gwynn slid under the tag from Pudge Rodriquez to give the National League an 8-7 win in ten innings. The first win for the N.L. in six years. (Also, Pudge would have been called for "blocking the plate" in today's game).
What else made it significant?
1994 was a lost season. Everything that transpired after the game that summer seemed to change the future of the midsummer classic.
The players strike began exactly one month after the thriller at Three Rivers Stadium. The 1994 World Series would be cancelled. It would be the second Series to never happen. The last one before that being 1904, when the New York Giants refused to play the American League Champion Boston Americans. Then-Giants manager Chuck McGraw must have been rolling in his grave when Major League Baseball introduced Interleague play in 1997.
In 1994, the Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball at the time. Five players were selected to the National League All Star team that summer. Moises Alou had the game-winning RBI that night.
When the season came to a halt due to the strike, the Expos were a league best 74-40 and had a six game lead on the Braves in their division. Montreal never got the chance to win the National League Pennant and possibly the third straight World Championship by a Canadian baseball club, and the first for the franchise.
Was the 1994 All Star Game in Pittsburgh the last great midsummer classic to be played? For a game that had offense, several lead changes, a dramatic ending and Meat Loaf, it's probably safe to say...
Other Notes and Facts:
-Fred McGriff of the Atlanta Braves was the MVP. Had the game-tying home run in the ninth.
-Bob Costas, Bob Uecker and Joe Morgan called the game on NBC.
-Paid attendance was 59,568
-Jim Joyce, who blew the call at first base to ruin Armando Galarraga's perfect game in 2010, was the third base umpire that night.
-10 current hall of famers played in the 1994 All Star Game
-Margo Timmins, the lead singer of the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies, sang the Canadian National Anthem. (She's good, but she's no Meat Loaf).
- It was the third time Pittsburgh hosted the MLB All Star Game (1944, 1959, 1974, 1994). The Pirates and Indians had hosted four All Star Games at that time, the most by any single baseball club in one city. Pittsburgh would host another one in 2006 at PNC Park and Cleveland hosted the 1997 game at Jacobs Field. Both baseball teams have each hosted five All Star Games.