Global stars shine in history-making ASG

July 14th, 2021

For proof that baseball truly is a global game, look no further than the 2021 MLB All-Star Game box score.

The American League’s winning pitcher in its 5-2 triumph was Japanese two-way sensation , who fired a perfect 1-2-3 first inning on the mound (and hit triple digits on the radar gun) to kick off a game in which the AL never trailed. Locking down the win was Australian native , who earned the first All-Star save by a White Sox pitcher since saves became an official statistic in 1969.

And, of course, Blue Jays slugger -- who was born in Montreal while his dad played for the Expos, and later grew up in the Dominican Republic -- became the youngest player to win the Chevrolet All-Star Game MVP.

Tuesday marked the first time that three players born outside the United States earned the All-Star Game’s pitching win, save and MVP Award in the same year. There was a similar sweep in 1997, when Sandy Alomar Jr. (Puerto Rico) won the MVP, Mariano Rivera (Panama) earned the save and Royals pitcher Jose Rosado earned the win -- Rosado was born in Newark, N.J., and later attended high school in Puerto Rico. Tuesday night also continued a trend: Former Yankees teammates Masahiro Tanaka (Japan) and Aroldis Chapman (Cuba) also combined for the win and the save at the last Midsummer Classic in 2019.

Hendriks, who became the first Australian to appear in multiple All-Star Games, said the stars who shone brightest Tuesday reflect where baseball is going.

"We're looking at a world game," said Hendriks. "You've got guys representing from a lot of countries, and it's a way to expand the game. Hopefully me doing what I did today gets back to Australia and gets the next generation of Australians coming over. Shohei is a walking billboard that will hopefully get more Japanese guys coming over -- and coming over earlier, like what Ichiro did with his generation. He and [Mariners All-Star Yusei] Kikuchi, those guys are both not only great players but fantastic people as well."

No matter where each All-Star hailed from, the camaraderie between the players was evident throughout the night. Everyone was thrilled to be playing the game they’ve loved since they were a kid.

"You definitely grow over here as a player,” said Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., “just having a chance to talk one-on-one with the best baseball players in the world, sharing the experience, talking a little bit about how they do it and how they started.

"It's just amazing,” Tatis continued, “seeing so many different stories, so many different cultures, it's something that I really embrace."