Hugs, homers, dives: Top 10 All-Star moments

July 14th, 2021

The 91st MLB All-Star Game had a little bit of everything, including long home runs, triple-digit pitches, incredible plays and a whole lot of fun on the field.

Here are the top 10 moments from the American League's 5-2 victory over the National League in the Midsummer Classic.

10) Tribute to Hammerin' Hank

The All-Star Game's pregame ceremonies included a touching tribute to baseball legend Hank Aaron, who died in January at age 86.

Aaron, the former home run king who hit 755 home runs to surpass Babe Ruth, was a 25-time All-Star in his Hall of Fame career.

Aaron's wife, Billye, was there as the MLB community honored her late husband. She was escorted onto the field by Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and Braves star Freddie Freeman.

9) Arenado gets a standing O

Longtime Rockies star Nolan Arenado got a nice ovation from the fans when he stepped into the batter's box for his first at-bat in the first inning.

Arenado, back at Coors Field as a member of the Cardinals after eight seasons with the Rockies, started the All-Star Game at third base for the NL for the fourth time but first with a new team. He thanked Rockies fans in a pregame interview on the field.

8) Peralta strikes out the side

Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta, while maybe not as well-known as aces Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, showed off his stuff by striking out Adolis García, J.D. Martinez and Matt Olson in order in the seventh inning.

Peralta became the first Brewers pitcher to strike out the side in an All-Star Game, and tied Ben Sheets in 2008 for the most K's by a Milwaukee pitcher in an All-Star Game.

7) Zunino, Realmuto flex muscle

A pair of catchers launched big opposite-field home runs during the All-Star Game -- the Rays' Mike Zunino for the AL and the Phillies' J.T. Realmuto for the NL.

Zunino became just the second Tampa Bay player to homer in an All-Star Game after Carl Crawford in 2007. His sixth-inning homer off the Mets' Taijuan Walker traveled 433 feet to right-center.

Realmuto turned around a 99 mph fastball from Tigers lefty Gregory Soto for a 430-foot homer that got the NL on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. He became the first Phillies player to homer in an All-Star Game since Mike Schmidt in 1981.

6) Hendriks shuts the door ... and breaks out the knuckle

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks came in for the ninth inning and finished the job for the AL, pitching a scoreless inning for the save, including a strikeout of Chris Taylor.

That extended the AL's All-Star Game winning streak to eight in a row, tied for the third-longest winning streak in All-Star Game history.

But the most fun moment from Hendriks on the mound? He broke out a knuckleball. Hendriks threw a first-pitch knuckleball to Ozzie Albies -- a beauty that looked like it might've caught the corner, even though he didn't get the call -- and he did it for a good cause.

Hendriks had talked to Rob Friedman, aka Pitching Ninja, about throwing a knuckleball before the game, and said he'd do it if fans would donate $20 to an animal charity.

After Hendriks threw the knuckle, Friedman tweeted out that fans could donate to Players for Pits, a Chicago-area dog rescue organization that features professional athletes as advocates.

5) Tatis brings the chatter

Padres phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. was mic'd up in the field for the top of the third inning and during an at-bat for the bottom of the third, and he didn't disappoint. Here's what Tatis had to say.

On always smiling: "When you're living the dream, you have to."

On who has a better arm, him or his dad, who played 11 MLB seasons: "He has like a 10. I have like a nine. I'm almost getting to a 10. Let's see when I turn 26 [if] I get some man strength."

On Shohei Ohtani: "It has to amaze everybody. If people ever wonder, if they want to see the legend of Babe Ruth, this guy is getting started in the same way, on the same path.

"Thirty-three home runs [in the] first half as a pitcher ... just wow. Just wow."

On Vlad Jr.: "That's my boy, since childhood, man. We came up together. We're kind of living almost the same life. We grew up the sons of Major Leaguers. It's been almost the same ride for both of us."

When Vlad Jr. crushed a home run: "That was a bomb. … He should've admired it a little bit more. It's the All-Star Game, boy. Have fun."

When he flied out to center field after just getting under a hanging slider from Kyle Gibson: "Dios mío … Should have hit that out."

4) Max, Vlad Jr. hug it out

National League starting pitcher Max Scherzer had an eventful first inning on the mound.

First off, he had to face Ohtani leading off the game … and got him to ground out to second base. He also punctuated the inning with authority, striking out Xander Bogaerts for the first K of the All-Star Game.

But the most memorable play was what happened in between. Vlad Jr. hit a rocket of a comebacker -- 111.1 mph off the bat -- that sent Scherzer ducking out of the way.

But don't worry -- Scherzer and Vlad hugged it out afterwards.

3) Walsh plays AL savior

Jared Walsh -- playing left field for the very first time in his Major League career -- made a terrific sliding catch to help the AL save its lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The AL was leading, 5-2, but Kris Bryant was up with the bases loaded and two outs, representing the go-ahead run. Bryant ripped a line drive to left, but Walsh came in and grabbed the ball just before it hit the grass.

Walsh's play saved multiple runs and ended the threat.

2) Shohei hits triple digits

After batting in the top of the first, Ohtani took the mound for the bottom and pitched a 1-2-3 inning -- including winning a battle with Tatis Jr. and topping 100 mph against Arenado.

Ohtani got Tatis to fly out to left field to start the inning, after the Padres star fouled off one of Ohtani's trademark splitters with two strikes. And he flashed triple digits on the radar gun on back-to-back pitches, including a 100.2 mph fastball. Ohtani joined Chris Sale in 2018 as the only All-Star Game starting pitchers to hit 100 mph since Statcast tracking began in 2015.

Ohtani talked about his start during an in-game interview from the dugout: "I was really surprised to hear that I was the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game," he said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "That's a huge honor. I was not expecting that. But once they called my name, I got ready, and I just wanted to show everyone what I have on the mound. And I feel that I was able to do that."

1) Vlad Jr. blasts off

Vlad Jr. absolutely crushed a home run in the top of the third inning -- 110.2 mph off the bat and 468 feet to left field.

That's the longest home run in the All-Star Game since Statcast started tracking in 2015 … by 58 feet. The previous longest was Kris Bryant's 410-foot home run in the 2016 All-Star Game. It was also the 200th home run in All-Star Game history.

Tatis Jr., who was on the mic during the inning, put his hands on top of his head in amazement.

Vlad Jr. and his father, Vlad Sr., have now both homered in the All-Star Game -- Vlad Sr. homered in 2006 off Brad Penny. The Guerreros joined Barry and Bobby Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. as the only father-son pairings to homer in an All-Star Game.

Vlad Jr.'s monster home run also earned him All-Star Game MVP honors. At 22 year, 119 days old, he's the youngest MVP in All-Star Game history, with the award going back to 1962. The previous youngest was Griffey Jr. in 1992, at 22 years, 236 days old.