REFLECTIONS ON A SPECIAL TIME IN THE BASEBALL SEASON

Now that the Independence Day weekend is behind us, Major League Baseball moves on to another July tradition.  At the close of today’s schedule the big leagues begins its annual midweek pause known as the All-Star Break.

The elite of Major League Baseball will take its talents to South Beach this year. Miami’s hometown hero Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby crown tomorrow night at Marlins Park.  Miami first baseman Justin Bour will join Stanton at this years derby, while left fielder Marcel Ozuna will start for the National League on Tuesday.

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Giancarlo Stanton at last year’s Home Run Derby in San Diego.

In preparing to write this morning’s blog there were so many memories that ran through my mind surrounding the All-Star Game.  Pete Rose practically ended Indians’ catcher Ray Fosse’s career when he barreled into him during a play at home plate in 1970. Reggie Jackson hit a light tower on the roof of Tiger Stadium in Detroit the following year.  What Mets fan can forget Dwight Gooden striking out the side in Houston in 1984?  Jacob deGrom would repeat the feat in 2015.

In 2001 we saw Cal Ripken, jr. bow out in style when his last at-bat ended with a home run at Seattle’s Safeco Field.  In 2014 we saw Derek Jeter finish his legendary all-star career going 2 for 2 with a run scored at Target Field in Minneapolis.  Both exited to huge ovations.

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Cal Ripken, jr. crosses the plate after hitting a home run in his final All-Star at bat.

Of all of the memories in all of the years that I have witnessed the Major League Baseball All-Star game, the one that stands out the most has to be the 2013 edition.

The baseball elite descended on Citi Field in Flushing, Queens that year.  The game itself was pretty uneventful, with the American League winning 3-0.  What stands out in my mind is a scenario that unfolded following the American League’s half of the eighth inning.  It involved a rival from the Bronx  and a Brooklyn born singer that became an icon in Boston, following a terrorist attack that brought everyone together.

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Yankees closer Mariano Rivera salutes the crowd at Citi Field (home of the rival Mets) in his final All-Star Game appearance.

 

The 2013 All-Star Game was held three months and two days following the terrorist bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  The other twenty-nine clubs in Major League Baseball had picked up on the Fenway Park tradition of playing Niel Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in between innings.  This was part of the Boston Strong moniker that supported the city following the tragic events of April 15, 2013.

In the middle of the eighth inning at the All-Star Game, the New York boy turned Boston icon took the field at the home of the Mets.  His rendition of “Sweet Caroline” gave me goosebumps, but that was only part one of this unbelievable moment in All-Star Game history.

After Diamond exited the field to a standing ovation, Mariano Rivera’s theme song “Enter Sandman” by Metallica blared over the Citi Field sound system.  What was unique about this is the fact that this was a tradition born at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.  It was the music that ushered in the Yankees closer.  Rivera announced ealier in the season, that 2013 would be his final year. That announcement made this, on the strangest of stages, his final All-Star Game appearance.  The crowd at the house of the hated rival greeted Rivera with a huge ovation.  Rivera took the mound with nobody else on the field.  All-Stars from both dugouts joined in the ovation.

This year the attention focuses on what many call New York City’s “Sixth Boro.”  What memories await us over the next few days in Miami?

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