After countless events and endless buildup, it was finally time to play the All-Star Game.
The final day of Major League Baseball’s All-Star celebration began each player boarding a Chevy truck with their family and parading through the streets of San Diego on the way to Petco Park. They were joined by team mascots and the World Series Trophy, while legendary Padres Dave Winfield and Trevor Hoffman were the Grand Marshals of the parade. Fans lined the streets to see the players and cheered all the way.
Once the All-Stars got to the ballpark, it was time for batting practice. The American League team went first, followed by the National League. It was very hot and hectic and a swarm of media surrounded the stars and their managers for the game.
After batting practice ended and fans began filling the park, the pregame ceremonies began. As the teams were announced, loyal Padres fans booed the All-Stars from divisional rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. But everyone else got a solid cheer — including the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz. A 10-time All-Star, Big Papi is retiring at the end of the season and fans let him know how much they appreciate him.
Another emotional moment came when MLB announced that the AL and NL batting title trophies will be renamed after two Hall of Famers and all-time great batters: the AL award will be named for Rod Carew, while the NL hardware will be dedicated to Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn.
Then, finally, it was time to play ball.
The game began with AL starting pitcher and Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale getting the first two outs on only three pitches. But then Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant homered on the first pitch he saw to give the NL an early 1-0 lead.
The early scoring continued in the bottom of the second. Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals hit a solo home run and then his Royals teammate Salvador Perez jacked a two-run blast off NL starting pitcher Johnny Cueto of the San Francisco Giants to give the AL a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins walked Ortiz, who was replaced by pinch runner Edwin Encarcion of the Toronto Blue Jays. As Big Papi was leaving the field, fans gave him a standing ovation and all of his American League teammates greeted him.
Later that inning, Hosmer hit an RBI single off Fernandez to score Encarcion to put the AL up 4-1. In the top of the fourth, the NL struck back on an RBI single by the Marlins’ Marcell Ozuna to make the score 4-2. But they stranded two runners, missing a chance to tie the game.
At the end of the fifth inning, the game stopped for a very moving moment. Players and fans in the stadium stood up to cancer by standing up and holding a card honoring someone they know who has been affected by cancer. This has become a kind of tradition at the All-Star Game, and the power of the moment was felt by everyone in Petco Park.
After the game resumed, the teams went back and forth without scoring. But in the eighth, the NL had a golden chance for a comeback. With the bases loaded and two outs, Aledyms Diaz of the St. Louis Cardinals could have tied the game — or given the NL the lead — with one swing. But pitcher Will Harris of the Houston Astros came up clutch and struck Diaz out.
In the top of the ninth, Orioles pitcher Zach Britton recorded the final three outs to give the AL a 4-2 victory.
Hosmer was named All-Star MVP, breaking superstar Mike Trout’s streak of two-straight MVP honors. The Cleveland Indians’ Corey Kluber got the win, Cueto got the loss, Britton delivered the save, and the AL won its fourth straight All-Star Game. That means for the fourth straight year, the American League will have home-field advantage in the World Series.
The 87th All Star Mid Summer Classic turned out to be a great game, and San Diego was a great host city. Is it too early to start thinking about the 2017 Midsummer Classic in Miami?
Photos: Max Ferregur (field), Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images (parade, game), Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images (Ortiz), Harry How/Getty Images (Stand Up 2 Cancer), Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images (Hosmer)