A Galaxy of All-Stars

July 11, 2011

By Jon Cooper

Sting Daily

When Major League Baseball brings together some of its brightest stars for the 82nd Annual All-Star Game tonight at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, Georgia Tech will once again be represented.

With the school’s rich baseball tradition and knack for developing big league talent, the Jackets have produced its share of representatives at the Midseason Classic over the years.

Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will add his name to that distinguished group in this year’s game, as an American League All- Star (New York Yankee Mark Teixeira was not named to his third All- Star Game despite leading all Major League first basemen with 25 homers).

Below is a list of the other Yellow Jackets who have taken the field or were chosen to participate in All-Star Games.

Whit Wyatt, PItcher

All-Star Games: 1939, 1940, 1941*, 1942

Record: Two appearances, one start. No Record, 0.00 ERA, 4 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

The Kensington, Ga., native pitched 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, spending his first nine years in the A.L., with Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland, but didn’t make an All-Star team (primarily because of injuries) until he arrived in Brooklyn in 1939. Wyatt proceeded to make the N.L. All-Star team the next four seasons. He didn’t register a decision, but would have if not for one of the most dramatic ninth- inning comebacks in All-Star Game history.

Called “The meanest guy I ever saw” by New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, the right-hander pitched in two of those four games, allowing two base-runners, wiping out each with double plays by the next hitter. His first appearance came in 1940, at age 31, at Sportsman’s Park, home of the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles), when he pitched two shutout innings, for the victorious National League. Wyatt retired Hall of Famers Luke Appling, Joe Gordon and Ted Williams along the way. In the fifth inning, he retired Appling and Frankie Hayes on groundouts then struck out Gordon. In the sixth inning, after allowing a single to opposing pitcher Bobo Newsom, he induced a double-play grounder from Cecil Travis then retired Williams on a ground out. At the plate, he struck out looking in the bottom of the fifth against Newsom.

Wyatt started the 1941 game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit (later renamed Tiger Stadium), again throwing two shutout innings, and allowing only a walk to Williams, the eventual MVP of the game. Williams would be erased on a double play by the next hitter, Jeff Heath. Wyatt, who would lead the N.L. with 22 wins, was in line for the victory, until the A.L. put together a four-run ninth-inning, capped off by Williams’ two-out, three-run homer off Chicago’s Claude Passeau.

That would be his final appearance in an All-Star Game.

Jim Hearn, PItcher

All-Star Games: 1952

Record: No Record (Did not pitch)

Hearn pitched in the Majors for 13 years with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants, making his lone All-Star Game appearance in 1952, his seventh season in the bigs. At age 31, the Atlanta-born right- hander was in the third year of a three-year run that saw him go 42-19 for the Giants (he’d finish ’52 at 14-7). Hearn didn’t got in the game played at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park because the game, which ended 3-2 National League, was called after five innings.

Kevin Brown, PItcher

All-Star Games: 1992*, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003

Record: Five appearances (one start). 1-0, 1.91 ERA (4 2/3 innings, 1 earned run, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks)

Brown was a six-time All-Star who earned All-Star berths with four different teams. He started and won his first All-Star Game appearance in 1992, as the American League outslugged the National League, 16-13, at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium. Brown, 27, in his sixth season with the Texas Rangers, was the beneficiary of a four-run first inning to get the win. He was perfect in his only inning of work, striking out Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and retiring fellow Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds on fly balls. Brown was perfect again in 1996 at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium, when he made his second appearance and first of three straight (the first two as a Florida Marlin, the last as a San Diego Padre). He threw a 1-2-3 third inning, retiring Edgar Martinez, Kenny Lofton and Wade Boggs, helping the N.L. to a 6-0 win.

Brown finally allowed a hit in ’97, at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, pitching the fifth inning. Cal Ripken reached him for a lead-off single but Brown retired Ivan Rodriguez, Roberto Alomar and Brady Anderson in order to keep his All-Star shutout streak in tact. The A.L. won the game, however, 3-1. The next year, at Coors Field, Brown came on with one out and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, and retired Juan Gonzalez on a sacrifice fly, then struck out Jim Thome to end the inning. The A.L. would win that game, 13-8.

In 2000, representing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field, Brown finally allowed a run. He allowed only one hit (to New York’s Derek Jeter) but issued three walks, including free passes to Jason Giambi, which loaded the bases and Carl Everett, which forced in a run. The N.L. would get him off the hook in the bottom half of the inning, tying the game, but the A.L. would score three in the ninth for the 6-3 win. It would be Brown’s final All-Star appearance, as he would be selected as an in 2003 but had to withdraw due to injury.

Nomar Garciaparra, Shortstop

All-Star Games: 1997, 1999*, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006

Hitting: .143 (1-for-7), 1 Run, 0-1

Garciaparra was a six-time All-Star, making the classicf five times in the first seven years of the Major League career. He did so at a time when the American League featured three of the greatest shortstops in the history of the game playing at once, with Nomar playing for Boston, Derek Jeter in New York and Alex Rodriguez in Seattle then Texas. Nomar debuted in 1997 at Jacobs Field, at age 23, his first full year in the bigs. The eventual A.L. Rookie of the Year, he entered the game in the seventh inning, replacing Rodriguez and was tested on his second batter, catching a line drive from Houston’s Jeff Bagwell. It was his only play in the field. At the plate, he was 0- for-1, with a ground out against New York Met Bobby Jones. The American League won the game, 3-1.

Nomar would make his first All-Star Game start in 1999 at Fenway Park. Unfortunately, he would not get a hit in front of the hometown crowd, lining out against Curt Schilling in the first inning then flying out against Randy Johnson in the third. He’d be replaced by Jeter to start the fourth inning. The following year at Turner Field, Garciaparra gave his college-hometown crowd reason to cheer. He replaced Jeter to start the fifth inning and, after lining out in the sixth inning, lined his first All-Star Game hit in the ninth inning off San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman. He’d score as part of a three-run ninth inning that salted away the A.L.’s 6-3 win. He had mixed results in the field, committing two errors but also starting the game-ending 6-4-3 double- play.

Garciaparra returned to the All-Star Game in 2002, at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, entering the game in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter for Oakland’s Miguel Tejada (that year’s A.L. MVP). He grounded out then finished the game, not getting a play in the field. Nomar came off the bench again in 2003, replacing A-Rod in the seventh inning and would go 0-for-1 in his lone at-bat against L.A.’s Eric Gagne, again, not getting tested in the field, as the A.L. held on, for a 7-6 win at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field.

The sixth and final All-Star selection came in 2006. By then, Garciaparra had changed leagues, changed teams twice and even changed position. He was now a Los Angeles Dodger, signing with them prior to the start of the ’06 season, and played first base. Hitting an N.L.- best .359 at the break, he was voted in as the N.L.’s final player but he did not get into the 2006 game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

Mark Teixeira, Firstbase

All-Star Games: 2005*, 2009*

Hitting: .167 (1-6), 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBIs

Teixeira was the starting first baseman in both of his All-Star Game appearances, in 2005 in Detroit’s Comerica Park and in ’09 in Busch Stadium III.

“Tex” made his first appearance a memorable one, going 1-for-3, with a homer and two RBIs for the victorious American League. Then a 25-year- old Texas Ranger, he started at first, and, after going hitless against Atlanta’s John Smoltz and Washington’s Livan Hernandez, blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning on a 3-2 pitch from Florida’s Dontrelle Willis. The round-tripper gave the A.L. a 7-0 lead. Those runs would prove to be the deciding runs in the game, which ended 7-5.

As a Yankee in 2009, he went 0-for-3, but was central to a two-run first inning against San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum, reaching on an error by N.L. first baseman Albert Pujols. The Junior Circuit would blow the lead, but come back to win in the eighth, 4-3. Teixeira would ground out against St. Louis’ Ryan Franklin and L.A.’s Chad Billingsley, before leaving the game to start the sixth.

Jason Varitek, Catcher All-Star Games: 2003, 2005*, 2008

Hitting: 1.000 (1-1), 1 Run, 1 BB

A three-time All-Star, Varitek did not play in 2003 but in 2005, started behind the plate and batted eighth, right behind Teixeira. He singled in his first All-Star at-bat, getting an infield hit in the second inning off Atlanta’s John Smoltz. In the fourth inning, he walked against Washington’s Livan Hernandez, sparking a two-run rally. He’d come around to score on an Ichiro Suzuki single, making it 5-0 American League. They’d hold on, 7-5. Varitek did not bat in the marathon 2008 game, playing the sixth and seventh innings before being replaced for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh. The American League won, 4-3, in 15.

Marlon Byrd, Outfield

All-Star Games: 2010

Hitting: .000 (0-1), 1 Run, 1 OFA

It took nine seasons to get to the All-Star Game, but Byrd made the most of his first appearance last season at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Entering the game for the National League in right field (a position he hadn’t played — nor would he play the rest of the season — for the Cubs) in fifth inning, Byrd was a key player in the dramatic finish of the N.L.’s 3-1 victory. Batting in the seventh inning with two out, runners on first and second and the N.L. trailing 1-0, he walked to load the bases against Chicago White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton, coming all the way back from 0-2. He then came all the way around from first on Braves catcher Brian McCann’s game-winning three-run double. In the bottom of the ninth, Byrd made the key defensive play of the game. With one out, following David Ortiz’s single, Byrd charged the sinking liner hit by Toronto catcher John Buck that hit in short right. He played it on a hop, whirled and fired to second base in time to get Ortiz, who had to hold up thinking the ball might be caught. Instead of having the tying runs on base with one out, the A.L. had two out and a runner at first. It was the first outfield assist in an All-Star Game since 1957, when Detroit’s Al Kaline forced Frank Robinson at second base on an Eddie Mathews grounder to right. L.A.’s Jonathan Broxton retired Texas’ Ian Kinsler, to seal the victory, ending the American League’s 13-year winning streak over the National League.

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