All-Star Game a memorable night of tributes
For all the varied celebrations planned for Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary, there’s one thing the Boston Red Sox weren’t able to have: this summer’s MLB All-Star Game. And it chafes team executives.
“That’s definitely still a tender spot,” said Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president and chief executive.
This summer’s All-Star Game instead will be held at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, in part fulfillment of a pledge MLB Commissioner Bud Selig made in 2006 after Jackson County, Mo., voters approved funding toward a $250 million renovation of Kauffman Stadium.
|The 1999 event featured on field the nominees for baseball’s All-Century team.
“I understand the benefit coming to Kansas City,” Lucchino said. “We’d like to have another one here, but the timing won’t likely ever be as poetic as it would have been this year.”
Still, Fenway Park has played host to the All-Star Game in 1946, 1961 and 1999, one of three active ballparks to have played host to the event three times.
The 1999 game in particular remains one of the most memorable in baseball history. Immediately prior to the game, MLB featured on field the nominees of the All-Century Team, a large-scale effort the league conducted with longtime sponsor MasterCard to identify the all-time greats of the game. Since the team included both active and retired players, the effort represented perhaps the greatest collection of baseball talent ever assembled in one place.
Red Sox legend Ted Williams, part of the All-Century team, by this point 80 years old and battling multiple health issues, threw out the first pitch of the All-Star Game. Williams then spent an emotional and unscripted 25 minutes on the field greeting the fellow stars who revered him as baseball royalty and ignored public address announcements to begin the game. Williams died less than three years later, with the game in retrospect serving as a sort of national goodbye to the iconic star.
Adding to the urgency of the night was a then-developing push to replace Fenway Park.
|Fans and players alike honored Red Sox legend Ted Williams.
Red Sox ace pitcher Pedro Martinez, in 1999 at the apex of his career, then went to the mound and struck out five of the first six hitters he faced to pace an American League 4-1 victory.
There have been several noteworthy All-Star Games since then, but for many, the 1999 game and history and emotion involved remain the event’s standard bearer.
“I think back often to those five days we had the All-Star Game events here, and it just turned out great,” said Dick Bresciani, Red Sox vice president emeritus and historian and former public relations executive for the club. “The question we had going in, though, was whether we could even pull it off. We shadowed the Rockies the prior year when the game was in Denver, and admittedly, it made me nervous. There was so much more space there, and there was so much that had to be done. But the league was terrific to work with, and the game turned out to be a huge success.”