America's Pastime

The 86th annual MLB All-Star game descends on Cincinnati in July

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One of the most memorable plays in Major League Baseball All-Star Game history occurred in Cincinnati in 1970, when West Side hero Pete Rose pummeled American League catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning at Riverfront Stadium.

The collision lives on as a reminder of Rose’s hard-nosed playing style and the pride that drove pre-unionized players to prove their league’s worth during this annual midseason exhibition game. Fast-forward four-plus decades: Free agency, interleague play and new safety precautions have tamed the Midsummer Classic considerably — former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig infamously ended the 2002 All-Star Game in a tie because both sides were running out of pitchers — but the league has attempted to add intrigue by putting home field advantage in the World Series on the line.

Though the game is more novel today — each team is awarded a representative in an everyone-gets-a-trophy type of scenario — the contest will still feature many of the game’s superstars, some of whom Cincinnatians don’t often get a chance to see.

The All-Star Game’s return to Cincinnati is of significance to both the game and this city, which has hosted the event four times going back to 1938.

Everybody knows the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team (1869), and many are aware the Reds hosted the first-ever night game at Crosley Field (1935). The Reds are so historically significant they are the only team assured of opening each season at home, resulting in the unofficial Cincinnati holiday that is Opening Day.

In 1938, Crosley Field hosted the sixth-ever All-Star Game, a 4-1 National League win behind three scoreless innings by Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer, who had thrown consecutive no-hitters just weeks earlier. The NL won again at Crosley in 1953, a game that featured Ted Williams as an honorary member of the American League after recently being released from military service.

Pete Rose’s historic score took place inside a brand-new Riverfront Stadium — it had only been open for two weeks before the 1970 All-Star Game — and Cincinnati’s favorite cookie-cutter stadium also hosted the event in 1988, which was the first of 12 All-Star appearances Barry Larkin would make during his Hall of Fame career.

Major League Baseball has events scheduled throughout “all-star weekend” July 10-14, including FanFest at the convention center Friday through Tuesday, the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday, featuring TV, film and music stars along with former Major Leaguers and Reds players, and the Home Run Derby Monday night before the game itself Tuesday evening. Visit allstargame.com for an up-to-date schedule and details on charitable events scheduled all weekend long.


All-Star FanFest

This fan-friendly convention will include more than 100 appearances from baseball legends and Hall of Famers. Fans can check out players’ official All-Star Game uniforms, take batting practice on mini fields and hang out in mini dugouts. There will be daily player autograph sessions, plus artifacts from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a display on the history of the Negro Leagues. July 10-14. $35; $30 children/seniors. Duke Energy Convention Center, allstargame.com.

The Color Run

MLB will host an official Color Run 5k starting at Sawyer Point the morning of July 11. The un-timed race will wind through an All-Star-themed course downtown and, of course, feature the dousing of runners with colored powder as they run. The Finish Festival at Sawyer Point will include family-friendly entertainment and music. Space is limited; sign up at allstargame.com/run.

Futures Game/Home Run Derby

Great American Ball Park will host exhibition games July 12 and 13, starting with the All-Star Futures Game, showcasing soon-to-be Major Leaguers in a minor league all-star game (current Reds such as Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto participated in the past). And on Monday night, MLB’s big bashers will compete in Home Run Derby at GABP. More info and complete weekend schedule at allstargame.com.

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