First played in 1933, as part of Chicago’s World Fair, the MLB All-Star Game has evolved into one of the most highly anticipated sports events of the baseball season.
Affectionately known as the “Midsummer Classic”, the MLB All-Star Game brings together the best players in baseball for one night, with the stars from the National League battling their American League rivals.
Over the nine-decade history of the MLB All-Star Game, baseball fans have been treated to spectacular exploits from some of the best players to ever play the game.
Here’s a look at a shortlist of the greatest MLB All-Star Game performances of all-time.
1. Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners
2007 – AT&T Park, San Francisco
The 2007 MLB season began as a particularly memorable one for Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
The Japanese superstar hit safely in 25 straight games early in the season, and established himself as one of baseball’s most dangerous base stealers while establishing an AL record with 45 straight stolen bases without getting caught.
Ichiro’s hitting and speed on the bases also propelled him into the MLB All-Star Game record books that year.
Having already hit safely in each of his first two at-bats, Ichiro brought fans to their feet by cracking his third hit of the game – a hard-hit fly ball to right-center field that went off the wall, enabling the Mariners speedster to round the bases for the first and only inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history.
Not only did he lock up MLB All-Star Game honors with that single swing of the bat, Ichiro also put the American league ahead for good on the way to a 5-4 victory in the seventh of his 10 appearances in the Midsummer Classic.
2. Pedro Martinez – Boston Red Sox
1999 – Fenway Park, Boston
It had been 38 years since Boston played host to the MLB All-Star Game at venerable Fenway Park.
Hometown fans in attendance enjoyed the added bonus of seeing Pedro Martinez get the start for the American League, and the Boston Red Sox ace pitcher didn’t disappointment.
Already enjoying a spectacular campaign that earned him AL Pitcher of the Month awards in April, May, and June, Martinez saved one of his most outstanding performances of the year for the Midsummer Classic.
The 27-year-old needed to throw just 28 total pitches over a two-inning hitless performance, during which he established a new MLB All-Star Game record by striking out the first four National League batters he faced, and tallied five K’s in total.
In addition to earning the win in the American league’s 4-1 victory, Martinez also earned MVP honors on the night.
His historic performance proved to be one of many during an historic 1999 season which he capped with the second of three career Cy Young Awards.
3. Ted Williams – Boston Red Sox
1946 – Fenway Park, Boston
After being canceled in 1945 due to travel restrictions related to World War II, the MLB All-Star Game returned in 1946.
An air of anticipation hung over ballparks around the majors that year, as a number of ball players returned to action after returning home from serving in the war effort overseas.
Among them was arguably the greatest pure hitter in baseball, Ted Williams.
“The Splendid Splinter” showed no signs of rust in his return to the majors following a three-year absence, piling up a sparkling .347 average with 22 home runs prior to the All-Star break.
Williams carried that momentum into the Midsummer Classic, delighting hometown fans by setting five All-Star Game records with four hits, two home runs, four runs, five RBI, and 10 total bases.
Each of those records still stand today, with Williams remaining in sole possession of the records he set for most runs and total bases.
However, the legendary Red Sox slugger would not earn the MLB All-Star Game MVP award, which was not introduced until 16 years later.
4. Cal Ripken Jr. – Baltimore Orioles
2001 – Safeco Field, Seattle
During his 20-year career in the major leagues, Cal Ripken Jr. not only established himself as the most durable player of all time, but also one of the most prolific.
Along with his well-publicized march to the record for most consecutive games played, surpassing the legendary Lou Gehrig, “iron Man” also rewrote the MLB All-Star Game record book with 19 game appearances and 17 consecutive starts.
The most memorable of those came in 2001.
Voted by the fans to start the Midsummer Classic at third base, his AL teammate Alex Rodriguez extended a gesture to Ripken that drew roars from the crowd, giving up his position at shortstop to the long-time middle infielder.
Ripken would subsequently keep the crowds entertained by drawing first blood in the contest, a lead-off home run in the fifth inning that gave the American League an early lead on the way to a 4-1 victory.
Not surprisingly, Ripken took home MVP honors in what would prove to be the final MLB All-Star Game appearance of his illustrious career.
5. Bo Jackson – Kansas City Royals
1989 – Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim
Few athletes have left their mark on professional sports the way that Bo Jackson did during the 1980s.
After breaking on to the sports scene as a Heisman Trophy-winning running back with the Auburn Tigers, Jackson also established himself as a start outfielder with the Kansas City Royals.
After becoming the first player in history to be named to both an NFL Pro Bowl squad and as an MLB All-Star, Jackson’s incredible athleticism and versatility were put on full display when he hit the field for the 1989 Midsummer Classic.
Jackson delighted AL fans in the first inning, robbing the National league of two runs with a sensational catch in center field.
He then followed up with clutch performances at the plate, connecting on a home run in the first inning to open the scoring for the American League before driving in the go-ahead run in the second inning that sealed a 5-3 AL win.
Jackson would go on to claim MLB All-Star Game MVP honors in what many observers claim to be one of the finest moments of a baseball career that ended far too soon, due to injuries.