Category Archives: All-Star Game

2007: When Ichiro Was the All-Star Game MVP

Read about it here, and read about all his All-Star Game appearances here.

Image found here.

Ichiro Pitches in the 1996 NPB All-Star Game

In honor of this weekend’s Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Game, here’s Ichiro pitching in the ’96 contest… Actually, the Japanese all-stars apparently play a three-game weekend series — this year’s final game goes down on Sunday at Kleenex Stadium.

All-Star Game Recap: 2010

July 13, 2010
Angel Stadium of Anaheim
National League 3, American League 1

Went 0-for-2, with a popout to short and a strikeout, though he made this impressive grab of an Albert Pujols blast in the first inning…

This was the only All-Star Game in ten that Ichiro played in but the A.L. lost… Once again, with Yumiko in the pre-game parade, this time at Disneyland…

So, in Ichiro’s ten consecutive All-Star Games between 2001 and 2010, he’s gone 8-for-26 (.308) with a double, a home run, a steal, four runs batted in, and one MVP award. The regular season resumes tomorrow, along with our regularly scheduled blogging.

Read more about the 2010 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2009

July 14, 2009
Busch Stadium, St. Louis
American League 4, National League 3

Before President Obama threw out the first pitch of the ’09 game, he met with Ichiro in the A.L. clubhouse.

“My idea, when I saw him, was to say, ‘What’s up?'”, Ichiro explained through his interpreter. “But there was no way I could do it. You know, he has that kind of aura about him. So I got nervous and I didn’t say that to him. I was a little disappointed about that.”

Instead, Ichiro simply said, “It’s an honor to meet you, sir.”

“I realized after seeing him today that presidents wear jeans, too,” he remarked after the game. “So my hope is that our skipper, [Mariners’ then-manager Don] Wakamatsu, was watching that and we can wear jeans on our flights as well.”

Though the players had supposedly been told they couldn’t get autographs, Obama offered to sign a ball for Ichiro, who gladly accepted. (Obama reportedly told Ichiro’s A.L. teammate Curtis Granderson that he’s a big Ichiro admirer.) Though fans who meet Ichiro are usually left starstruck, this is the only time I’ve seen Ichiro starstruck himself…

Ichiro went 1-for-3 with a single. Here he is with Yumiko in the pre-game parade…

While in St. Louis, Ichiro and Yumiko visited the grave of George Sisler, whose single-season record of 257 hits in 1920 was beaten by Ichiro’s 262 hits in 2004. Ichiro laid flowers on the grave.

Read more about the 2009 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2008

July 15, 2008
Yankee Stadium, New York
American League 4, National League 3

Above, in a pre-game ceremony, meeting Hall-of-Famers Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson. Below, signing autographs during batting practice…

He went 1-for-3 with a flyout, a single, and a strikeout. The pre-game parade…

Read more about the 2008 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2007

July 10, 2007
AT&T Park, San Francisco
American League 5, National League 4

Ichiro won the Most Valuable Player award, going 3-for-3 with the first-ever inside-the-park homer in All-Star history. He lead off with a single in the first inning and added another in the third. Then, with Brain Roberts on base the fifth, Ichiro lofted a fly ball over right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. that took a crazy bounce off the outfield wall. Roberts came around to score and Ichiro followed, easily striding across the plate. Above, he’s congratulated by Roberts; below is the actual hit.

“I thought it was going to go over the fence. I was bummed,” Ichiro said, initially thinking he wouldn’t get a home run, but… “It’s one I’ll never forget. I was able to give it my all. I’m really happy.”

Here he is during batting practice…

And here’s Yumiko and Ichiro in the pre-game parade…

After the game, back in his parade suit, his postgame MVP interview…

Read more about the 2007 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2006

July 11, 2006
PNC Park, Pittsburgh
American League 3, National League 2

This was the first year of the annual pre-game All-Star parade, where the stars and their significant others (like Ichiro’s wife Yumiko, above) ride through town in pickup trucks. In the ensuing game he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Read more about the 2006 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2005

July 12, 2005
Comerica Park, Detroit
American League 7, National League 5

Six years ago today: the only one of his ten All-Star Games he did not start for the American League, but did make the roster as a reserve. Went 1-for-2 with two RBIs.

Read more about the 2005 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2004

July 13, 2004
Minute Maid Park, Houston
American League 9,
National League 4

Doubled in a 1-for-4 performance.

Read more about the 2004 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2003

July 15, 2003
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
American League 7, National League 6

Went 0-for-1 and scored a run, below…

I neglected to mention in my 2001 recap an All-Star tradition that began that year: Ichiro’s profanity-laden pep talk delivered to his American League teammates. In the A.L. clubhouse, after the manager gave his pre-game address, Ichiro would step forth from his locker. Then, in English, he’d proceed to disparage the National League All-Stars with a shocking string of F-bombs, easing any pre-game jitters and leaving his teammates in stitches… In 2008, when asked how much he thought his annual speech contributed to the A.L.’s recent All-Star successes, he joked, “I’ve got to say over 90 percent… I know how important [the speech] is to the game. I’m more concentrated at that moment than I am in the game.”

Read more about the 2003 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2002

July 9, 2002
Miller Park, Milwaukee
American League 7, National League 7

This is the one that ended in an 11-inning tie, leaving everybody pissed. Ichiro started in right and went 0-for-2 — here’s an article about his involvement in the game.

Read more about the 2002 All-Star Game here.

All-Star Game Recap: 2001

July 10, 2001
Safeco Field, Seattle
American League 4, National League 1

Over the All-Star break we’ll look at Ichiro’s performance in each of the last ten All-Star Games — a streak that began ten years ago today, on July 10, 2001, and sadly ends on Tuesday.

In the summer of 2001, All-Star host city Seattle was in a complete baseball frenzy. The Mariners entered the All-Star break with a blistering 63-24 record, on their way to a record-tying 116-win season, and Safeco Field was on its way to drawing a franchise-record 3.5 million fans. Among the eight Mariners selected to play in the game was red-hot rookie Ichiro, the Majors’ first-ever Japanese position player. Ichiro was handily shattering the notion that a Japanese player couldn’t hack it in the bigs, entering the game batting .347 with 134 hits.

Ichiromania was in full swing. The charismatic star earned a then-record 3,373,035 All-Star votes, merchandise bearing his likeness was in sky-high demand, and he was the focus of international media attention throughout the All-Star festivities. The nationally televised contest essentially served as his American coming-out party.

Ichiro lead off the bottom of the first with a sharp grounder to first baseman Todd Helton, who tossed it to N.L. starter Randy Johnson, racing toward the bag. Ichiro outran the Mariners’ former #51 for an infield single, as seen on the June 10 Baseball Card of the Week

Ichiro then stole second. He later grounded out in the third, and again in the fifth. He played five innings in the outfield, starting in center and then shifting to right in the fourth.

I would’ve loved to have gone to the game, but tickets were far beyond my budget. However, I was lucky enough to go to the ’79 game at the Kingdome, which I wrote about for the Seattle Weekly — I’ve since reconsidered that last line.

Anyway, I did sorta catch the first few innings of action from the top floor of a parking garage across the street from Safeco’s centerfield stands, and then I watched the rest of the game on TV in the nearby Pyramid Brewery beer garden. Afterwards I saw Barry Bonds and some other players in the Sheraton lobby, then I went home and wrote this Onion-esqe article, Riots Shut Down All-Star Game, containing this silly, made-up quote:

“I very much frowning at dishonorable conflict” said Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. “Thank you.”

Read more about the 2001 All-Star Game here.