This is an excellent aerial view of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which in 1993 hosted my first All-Star Game as a fan, and possibly my favorite. I breathlessly watched all of that year's festivities on television with my Dad. I still remember the excitement of the Home Run Derby, which was much less of a bloated ordeal then compared to today's three-round, three-hour slog. Ken Griffey, Jr. was one of my favorite players at the time, the exciting young star with a million-watt smile. He became the first (and only, as of 2008) player to hit the B & O Warehouse on the fly, on his way to tying Texas slugger Juan Gonzalez with seven home runs. They would have two tiebreaker rounds before Juan Gone emerged victorious, 12-11.
The game itself was nothing short of thrilling for me. It was amazing to see all of the brightest stars, the biggest names in the game, playing in my home town. The Orioles' legendary shortstop, Cal Ripken, Jr., started. Though he went 0-for-3, the American League had no trouble dispatching their National League counterparts, 9-3. Kirby Puckett won the MVP award, hitting a home run and driving in two runs. I remember discussing the game over the phone with my mother, who was watching from a hotel room in Philadelphia; she was on a rare business trip.
Three moments in the game stood out to me, and still do after fifteen years. The first was the classic Randy Johnson-John Kruk confrontation, in which the Big Unit threw his patented fastball about six feet over Kruk's head, causing the first baseman to bail out, fan himself off, and strike out weakly. The second was AL catcher Ivan Rodriguez hitting a drive deep to left field that actually stuck between two sections of padding in the outfield fence; Barry Bonds stood helplessly, staring at the trapped ball. The final moment still lives in Baltimore sports infamy.
Aside from Cal, ace pitcher Mike Mussina was the only All-Star for the O's. Late in the game, Mussina still had not been used. The Baltimore fans rose to their feet and cheered as Moose began to throw in the bullpen, but those cheers turned to boos when AL manager Cito Gaston (of the then-rival Blue Jays) neglected to bring him into the game. Rumor has it that Mike was throwing of his own volition, to stay on schedule going into the second half of the season. However, that hasn't stopped many Charm City fans from holding a grudge against Cito and our neighbors to the north ever since.
I hope the Midsummer Classic returns to Baltimore sooner rather than later, especially since Bud Selig has been awarding the honor to Camden Yards knockoffs ever since.