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Michael Taylor 6th Jul 2009 - 20:38

Great MLB All-Star game memories

As we roll on towards the 80th edition of the MLB All-Star game at St Louis' Busch Stadium, I take a look back at some of baseball's most defining moments as this year's new crop of All-Stars attempt to recreate some of the heroics that live in the memory forever.

1933 - The American Icon.  As the Great Depression tore through the heart and soul of America, baseball was also down on its knees as the public could no longer afford to watch the national past-time. Something had to be done and a hero was in desperate need.

On the recommendation of legendary Chicago Tribune writer Arch Ward, Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis approved the very first All-Star game to be held at the Chicago White Sox' Comiskey Park on July 6 1933. The greatest players of the era were invited including Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Fox, Carl Hubbell and Lefty Grove all in the name of a special, one-off game between the American League and National League. However, despite the presence of a multitude of greats it was one man who stepped forward and delivered - Babe Ruth.

After the AL took an early lead courtesy of a Lefty Gomez single, the Cardinals Bill Hallahan really ran into trouble in the bottom of the third as the Tigers Charlie Gehringer drew a walk with Ruth waiting on deck. From there it's history, as the Bambino became the first man in All-Star history to homer with a crushing blow into the right field stands.

The American League went on to win the game by four runs to two but it was Ruth's home-run that sent the 49,200 crowd on their way with a feeling of resounding pleasure.

1949 - A game for all races. Major League Baseball finally opened its doors to black players in 1947 but it wasn't until 1949 that the All-Star game became the true national past-time for the entire American population.

Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe were all named on the National League roster for the game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, and it was hoped the inclusion of these players would end the American League's dominance. Unfortunately the NL hadn't taken Joe DiMaggio's threat into consideration though.

The unbelievable Yankees centerfielder had been injured for the majority of the season and his inclusion by AL manager Lou Boudreau had raised many eyebrows. However, DiMaggio proved the doubters wrong by driving in three runs as the AL triumphed by eleven runs to seven.

The game was a huge success and, despite the battle that was still to come, showed baseball was leading the way in civil rights issues.

1970 - New decade same result.  Throughout the 1960s the National League had dominated the All-Star game, losing just one of the thirteen matches played in that decade. The American League was desperate to make amends and in 1970 they looked to have their best chance of doing just that.

Earl Weaver was charged with leading the AL and things had started well at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium. Mainly behind the great play of Boston's Carl Yastrzemski, the AL forged a healthy 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth but the problems started there.

Future Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter was on the mound and the National League batters thrived. Dick Dietz homered and was quickly followed over the plate by Bud Harrelson and Joe Morgan to send the game into extra innings. Then, in the twelfth, hits king Pete Rose ran over Ray Fosse at home plate to hand the NL a walk off win while Fosse was left nursing a sore head in a downtown Cincinnati hospital.

For his part in this epic, Yaz became just one of two men in history to be named All-Star MVP despite being on the losing side.

1989 - The super-athlete.  After the reserve clause was abolished and free agency became part of baseball many people thought the game had lost integrity as player salaries soared out of control. An intense All-Star game was needed to restore the faith and in 1989 the players certainly delivered.

The action got underway in the first as Bo Jackson, the former Heisman Trophy winner and Tampa Bay Buccaneers number one NFL draft choice, sent a bomb out over the centerfield wall. Wade Boggs then followed it up with a solo blast of his own, making it the first back-to-back home-run performance in All-Star history.

The history making action didn't stop there either as the AL kept the NL out behind the strong pitching of leading strikeout man Nolan Ryan. The veteran, in Texas' colours, gave two strong shut-out innings to become the oldest winning pitcher in an All-Star game as the AL wrapped up consecutive wins for the first time in 32 years.

Jackson, for both his offence and magnificent defence, was named MVP and despite his short stay in the Majors paved the way for a new generation of 'super-athletes'. It seemed a fitting end to a decade dominated by players' strikes and owners' controversy as money issues finally made way for pure baseball.

2002 - The never-ending game. The 2002 All-Star game was set to be a celebration of Ted Williams' life after the last man to bat .400 sadly passed away a week prior to the Miller Park Midsummer Classic. The MVP award was re-named as an honour to Williams' achievements while all eyes were on Barry Bonds after his record breaking 73 home run season in 2001. However the night's events turned into a nightmare.

Everything started well as Torii Hunter stole a homer away from Bonds with an incredible wall grab only for the Giants slugger to go one better the next time with a huge two run shot that put the NL 4-0 up.

The AL fought back though behind Alfonso Soriano's solo homer and an RBI triple from Omar Vizquel as the game tied up at 7-7 after nine innings. Then, at the bottom of the eleventh, with the scores still locked, the unthinkable happened as both teams ran out of pitchers.

Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, was forced into a decision and declared the match a draw - the first draw in All-Star history other than the rain-spoiled 1961 classic at Fenway. The players were forced to depart the field under a shower of bottles as angered fans vented their frustrations. It was the worst possible end to what had been a perfect night of remembrance and was enough to cause rule changes aimed at making sure the same events never occurred again.

Can any of 2009's All-Stars write their place into history and create a legend for themselves? Find out on July 14 as the Midsummer Classic heads to Missouri. We'll have all the betting coverage to make this great event even more exciting, so make sure you keep checking out our baseball betting page.

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