Red Sox: MLB All-Star Game MVP heroics of the past

BOSTON - JULY 22: Former teammates and current Boston Red Sox players stand around a '9' in left field during the Ted Williams tribute on July 22, 2002 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The public was invited to the park to honor Williams who died July 5, 2002. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 22: Former teammates and current Boston Red Sox players stand around a '9' in left field during the Ted Williams tribute on July 22, 2002 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The public was invited to the park to honor Williams who died July 5, 2002. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have had some notable success in the All-Star Game and one incident that may have hampered their greatest hitter. Will Chris Sale add to the MVP collection?

The baseball All-Star Game was originated by the lowest of all life forms – at least to certain players – a sportswriter named Arch Ward. The first game in 1933 was in conjunction with a World’s Fair being hoisted upon the good citizens of Chicago. Since then the AS Game has mutated as voting for players has changed, additional contests such as the Home Run Derby have been added and the significance of the game determining home-field advantage for the World Series. The last has now joined the historical memory file.

The game used to generate far more excitement than it does and for some very salient reasons. The first is the addition of Inter-league play. The second is the explosion of media where all plays of significance and insignificance are readily available.  The third is free agency and its impact upon player movement.

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All three of the above have given baseball fans the opportunity to be familiar with and see the stars of the other league. Unless you were in a two-team city, or three teams in the case of New York, players would remain somewhat secretive. No more.

The Red Sox have a history with the All-Star Game and the Most Valuable Trophy is named after Ted Williams. The Red Sox also hosted a tied All-Star Game in 1961 – a second game.  Yes – baseball once had two All-Star Games (1959-62). The attendance was so dismal I actually bought a ticket game day.

Now for a look at the Red Sox MVP’s for the All-Star Game. And, yes, Williams would have won two if they had such an award.

The Red Sox have had their share of All-Star Game moments, most notably and with no surprise, it is Williams that leads that parade starting in his famous 1941 season when TSW hit .406.

Williams had a special playground for swatting baseballs and that was Briggs Stadium in Detroit. A short right field and overhang for a second deck made for an inviting target. Williams hit 55 of his career home runs at Briggs and no other road stadium comes close to that total.

In this contest, Williams stepped to the plate in the last of the ninth with the American League trailing the National League 5-4. With two outs and two runners on, righty Claude Passeau tossed a 2-1 pitch that Williams crushed for a walk-off home run. There was no MVP Award so Williams missed out on that bling.

In 1946, the Red Sox romped to a league title-winning 104 games and losing only 50.  The All-Star contest would be held at Fenway Park and it was all Williams as the American League rolled over the National League 12-0. Williams went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs and five RBI, but it was the second home run that generated the buzz.

Right-hander Rip Sewell was pitching the eighth for the Nationals and Rip had a special pitch called the “Ephesus Pitch” that is still occasionally tossed. What it does is tossed so slow that it depends on the total power of the batter and in the case of Sewell one must have exquisite timing. Sewell tossed his in a high arc reminiscent of slow pitch softball. The first one was ignored, but the second one Sewell tossed was sent out of the park.

The 1950 All-Star contest was not one of success for Williams since he went only 1-for-4, but what was remarkable was Williams played with a broken elbow. The injury happened in the first inning during a running catch in left field.  Williams remained in the game, but required surgery that cost him almost the remainder of the season.

Williams hit just .317 in 1950 and the following year hit .318. The impact of the injury was – at least according to Williams – the reasoning behind the low average – at least low for TSW. Recalled to the military in 1952 that season was just six games.  Returning in 1953 Williams hit .407 in 37 games.

Sometimes a  player on the losing team wins the MVP and that happened in 1970 to Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski. The National League prevailed 5-4 in a 12 inning contest in Cincinnati, but Yaz had a delightful game. A game that had a moment of baseball infamy when Pete Rose ran over catcher Ray Fosse.

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Yastrzemski went 4-for-6 in the game with a double and one RBI. The double came in the top of the twelfth with two outs, putting the potential winning run in scoring position. That did not happen, but Yastrzemski’s all-around play made the MVP Award his.

The celebration at Fenway Park was memorable for the 1999 All-Star Game. Williams was in attendance and players paid homage to a baseball legend.  This was also show time for Pedro Martinez. Martinez would finish the 1999 season with the pitching Triple Crown and the All-Star game was the gem of the year.

The first inning for the Nationals it was Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa. All three returned to the dugout as strikeout victims. In the last of the first future teammate, Curt Shilling was touched for two runs and the AL had a 2-0 lead. In the second inning, Mark McGuire became four in a row, but that was broken up by Matt Williams reaching on an error.  A double-play followed and the victory and MVP Award became Pedro’s.

J.D. Drew made only one All-Star Game in his 14-year career and that was 2008. Drew’s big moment was a two-run home run in the last of the seventh to tie the game 2-2. Drew later singled, reached on an error and walked.  Drew even stole a base. His walk in the bottom of the 15th inning loaded the bases and set the stage for a game-winning sacrifice fly by Michael Young.

Next: Martin Prado a possible third base solution

The 2017 game will have Chris Sale as the projected starter. Two solid innings and a quick few runs could get Sale a win and MVP Award.