Angels have lasting All-Star Game memories
Players past and present have had big Midsummer moments
ANAHEIM -- Garret Anderson owes Manny Ramirez, currently a Dodgers teammate, a favor.
"I need to go over and thank Manny," Anderson said, beaming.
If the Boston lightning rod hadn't bowed out of an American League starting role in the 2003 All-Star Game in Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field because of hamstring issues, Anderson probably couldn't have delivered one of the defining performances of his career.
"I wasn't selected to start," Anderson recalled, "but Manny couldn't play, and Mike [Scioscia, Angels manager] put me in left in his place. It turned out to be a pretty good day for me."
Arguably the most under-appreciated star of his generation, Anderson is a master of understatement. With a homer, double and single, he had a major role in the American League's dramatic 7-6 victory, claiming the Most Valuable Player award in the first All-Star Game that decided home-field advantage for the World Series.
It capped a memorable trip to the South Side for the man who'd been a driving force in the Angels' World Series title quest nine months earlier. Anderson also won the Home Run Derby, taking the measure of Albert Pujols in the final round with Dave Valle, a former catcher, serving as his pitcher.
"He'd never thrown to me before, but we got in a nice groove," Anderson said. "I don't overswing. I was dropping them five rows over the fence. The other guys -- Jason [Giambi], Albert -- put on a show.
"Troy Glaus told me not to overswing, and Adam Kennedy said, `Don't get shut out like Glaus.' It was the first and only time I was in the Derby."
The Angels, hosts of the 2010 Major League All-Star Game at Angel Stadium on July 13 and all the events surrounding the big show, have produced three MVPs on the big Midsummer stage. All were outfielders and all made it happen in the Windy City.
The late Leon Wagner was the MVP in 1962 at Wrigley Field in the second All-Star Game that summer. Known as "Daddy Wags" for his colorful style, Wagner had three hits in the game, including a pair of doubles.
In 1983, representing the Angels along with five teammates, Fred Lynn unloaded the only grand slam in All-Star Game history, helping to lift the American League to a 13-3 rout at Comiskey Park.
Lynn's blow against Atlee Hammaker was epic. It can be viewed in reflection as something of a turning point in the series, ending a run of 11 consecutive AL losses.
From 1963 to '82, the National League ruled the Midsummer Classic, winning 18 of 19. The American League was widely viewed as inferior in every way, and it clearly did not sit well with the sweet-swinging center fielder, who'd made his reputation with the Red Sox before returning home to Southern California in 1981.
"I took it personally," Lynn said of the NL's dominance.
Since Lynn went deep, jolting the Giants southpaw and the Senior Circuit, the AL has turned the tide, taking 20 of 26 with one tie.
Now it is the National League trying to alter the course and reclaim some prestige in search of its first All-Star Game triumph since 1996.
The NL might have prevailed in 2003 if Anderson hadn't brought down the hammer, completely changing the tone of the game.
The NL had carried a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth when Alex Rodriguez led off with an infield hit. Facing right-hander Woody Williams, Anderson hit a shot that carried over the wall in right-center.
The AL was still down, 6-4, in the eighth when Anderson, matched against Dodgers closer Eric "Game Over" Gagne with one out, lined a double to right.
Melvin Mora ran for Anderson, scoring on Vernon Wells' double before Hank Blalock unloaded a two-run homer that proved to be the difference. The win went to Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly, who worked a perfect eighth inning.
Hideki Matsui, playing in his first Major League All-Star Game in his first season with the Yankees, was the center fielder between Anderson and Ichiro in Chicago.
"I remember getting a hit on the first pitch in my first at-bat," Matsui said, gesturing to demonstrate that it was an opposite-field single against the Giants' Jason Schmidt.
Like Matsui, Bobby Abreu has appeared in two All-Star Games, both times representing the Phillies. His favorite was his first, in Houston in 2004, even though he singled in two at-bats the following year in Detroit.
"It was nice to go back to where it started," said Abreu, who played 74 games for the Astros before they let him get away to Tampa Bay in the 1998 expansion draft. The Rays handed him over to the Phillies for shortstop Kevin Stocker.
For Anderson, the 2003 Classic offered redemption. In Milwaukee in 2002, in a game that ended in a controversial tie after 14 innings, Anderson had a chance to put the AL in the driver's seat in the eighth inning.
|"Of all my All-Star appearances, that was probably my most memorable and the one I enjoyed the most."|
-- Nolan Ryan,|
on '89 All-Star Game
"I drove in  runs that year," Anderson said, "and I couldn't get the guy in from third base."
That day was memorable for Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, making his All-Star Game debut for the Twins.
Barry Bonds, at the peak of his powers, lofted a fly ball to center in the first inning. Taking flight, Hunter planted at the wall and elevated, coming down with the baseball and stealing a home run from the Giants slugger.
In one of the classic moments of the Midsummer Classic, Bonds ran out and threw a bear hug on Hunter.
"He picked me up and said, `Nice catch, kid,'" Hunter recalled. "We'd never really talked before that, and it started what turned out to be a pretty good relationship between us. He'd give me tips now and then, trying to help me out, and I appreciated that.
"Funny thing about that catch is I was hoping he wouldn't hit it to me. Derek Lowe was pitching, and it's the first inning of my first All-Star Game. I know how hard Barry hits the ball. The hardest play for any center fielder is the line drive right at you, and Barry hit the ball with so much backspin it could take off on you and make you look foolish.
"He hit it in the air, and I figured it was gone. But the wind for some reason blew it back. I went after it, went up and came down with it. Ichiro [Suzuki] was there when I came down ... It was his first season, and he'd already picked up some English I didn't know he knew."
It would become tradition in the AL clubhouse before All-Star Games for Ichiro to let loose with an Americanized speech that never failed to bring howls of laughter.
Angels southpaw Scott Kazmir, in complete awe in his first All-Star Game in Pittsburgh in 2006, hasn't forgotten Ichiro's colorful words -- and his amazing stroke.
"He walks up in BP and hits about 15 in a row, upper deck," Kazmir said. "That was impressive. There's no doubt in my mind he could win the Home Run Derby if he wanted."
Kazmir, then the Rays' youthful ace, warmed up for two innings -- about 90 pitches worth, he estimated -- to deliver nine in retiring Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Beltran and Pujols.
"Pujols hit the first pitch to the warning track in center field," Kazmir said.
Brian Fuentes, as the Rockies' closer, made his lone All-Star Game appearance in Pittsburgh even though he's been chosen four times for the Midsummer Classic, including last season with the Angels.
"It's always such a blur," he said. "I faced [Grady] Sizemore, Suzuki and [Derek] Jeter. I struck out Sizemore on two fastballs and a slider and got Ichiro and Jeter. I was a little nervous, but after the first pitch I was OK."
Two years later, in the final All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, Kazmir was the winning pitcher after working a scoreless 15th inning.
"I'd pitched two days before and wasn't expecting to be out there," Kazmir said. "But it was a thrill to get the win in the final All-Star Game in the great old ballpark."
Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders delivered an inning apiece for the AL in that '08 Classic, Santana yielding an opposite-field homer to Matt Holliday while Saunders rolled through his inning.
The 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco ended with the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez closing down a 5-4 AL win by retiring Aaron Rowand with the bases loaded. Vladimir Guerrero, with Angels third-base coach Dino Ebel serving pitches, won the Home Run Derby with a prodigious power display.
The Angels have hosted two previous All-Star shows, in 1967 and 1989. The first was notable for its length -- 15 innings, turning on a Tony Perez home run for the NL -- and the second for a remarkable display of athletic ability by Bo Jackson.
The Royals' inimitable outfielder killed a first-inning rally by the NL with a running catch and then launched a home run against Rick Reuschel to dead center that ranks with Reggie Jackson's 1971 blast in Detroit among the most eye-popping in the game's history.
The '89 showcase featured a return to Anaheim by the franchise's most celebrated performer. Nolan Ryan, toiling for the Rangers, worked two scoreless innings, striking out three in the AL victory.
"Of all my All-Star appearances, that was probably my most memorable and the one I enjoyed the most," said Ryan, president of the Rangers.
Ryan, in 1979, became one of four Angels pitchers to start an All-Star Game. Others in the exclusive club are Ken McBride (1963), Dean Chance (1964) and Mark Langston (1993).
Angels ace Jered Weaver would love to be the fifth, if the fates cooperate.
Twice an All-Star for the Dodgers, in '89 and again in '90 in drizzly Wrigley Field when he started for the NL, Scioscia makes it clear his enduring All-Star thrill was watching Anderson have his night in the spotlight in Chicago.
"There are a lot of guys who were very influential on building this organization -- Tim Salmon, Troy Percival, Garret," Scioscia said. "Those are guys who went through the hard times and persevered.
"Out of all those guys, Garret's consistency is something fans will remember. He was a superstar. Sometimes he wasn't put in that status, but he was. He was one of the five best hitters in the game, and he showed it that night."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.