Midsummer mash: Best All-Star Game blasts

July 14th, 2021

Since the All-Star Game debuted in 1933, it’s created a lot of special moments, including a number of thrilling home runs.

Here is a quick look at some of the best of those blasts -- the clutch, the dramatic, the memorable and the awe-inspiring.

2021: Vlad Jr. soars at Coors
With the All-Star Game at Denver’s mile-high Coors Field, there was little doubt that someone would carry the previous night’s Home Run Derby theatrics into the Midsummer Classic. It was the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who made it happen, nearly reaching the left-field concourse with a 468-foot rocket that set a new record for All-Star Game home run distance (since Statcast began tracking in 2015). Not only that, but the 22-year-old became the youngest player to homer in his All-Star Game debut and the second youngest overall, behind only a 21-year-old Johnny Bench in 1969. Oh, and he was also voted the youngest All-Star MVP.

2018: Back-to-back ‘Stros
The baseballs were absolutely flying at Nationals Park in this one, as the teams combined for a record 10 homers (five by each team). The NL’s Scooter Gennett came through with a game-tying two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras, but things turned back around quickly. Leading off the top of the 10th against Ross Stripling, Astros teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer set up an 8-6 win by becoming the first teammates to mash back-to-back All-Star Game homers since the Dodgers' Steve Garvey and Jim Wynn in 1975.

2015: Trout starts things with a bang
Only four players in All-Star Game history have opened the top of the first inning with a homer, and the most recent was Mike Trout, who has cemented himself as one of the greatest Midsummer Classic performers. This opposite-field shot off Zack Greinke in Cincinnati helped Trout land his second straight All-Star Game MVP Award and was part of a stretch of six straight All-Star Games in which Trout recorded a hit.

2007: Ichiro puts the ‘run’ in home run
A homer over the fence in the All-Star Game? That’s been done plenty of times. But an inside-the-park job? There’s only been one. That’s fitting, because Ichiro Suzuki was a singular star. In 2007 in San Francisco, Ichiro lined a ball off the right-field wall, and when it took an unexpected carom, the Mariners phenom never stopped running. With his speed, there wasn’t even a play at the plate as Ichiro circled the bases.

2003: Game over? Not quite
In 2003, Dodgers closer Eric Gagne was at the top of his game and was virtually untouchable, going 55-for-55 in save opportunities during the regular season. But that doesn’t count the All-Star Game. Holding a two-run lead, Gagne gave up an RBI double to Vernon Wells, before Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock stunned Gagne with a go-ahead two-run bomb to right field at U.S. Cellular Field. The AL won, 7-6, behind Blalock’s heroics.

2001: Cal says farewell, in style
No player who has started his career after 1955 has played in as many All-Star Games as Cal Ripken Jr., who was on the field for 19 of them, including 17 starts. That amazing run came to an end in 2001, when the 40-year-old was winding down his Hall of Fame career with the Orioles. But the Iron Man had some magic left for the fans in Seattle that night. Ripken came up for the first time in the third inning, acknowledged a standing ovation from the crowd, and on the first pitch from Chan Ho Park, he drilled a ball over the left-field wall.

1989: Bo knows dingers
Bo Jackson was at the peak of his incredible multisport powers in 1989, when he represented the Royals in the All-Star Game in Anaheim. Leading off the bottom of the first inning against Rick Reuschel -- and with President Ronald Reagan watching from the broadcast booth with Vin Scully -- Jackson obliterated a low pitch and sent it way out to dead center field. The blast was estimated at 450 feet, and it has stood the test of time as one of the most viscerally powerful big flies in All-Star history.

1983: An All-Star salami
Just like there’s only been one inside-the-park homer in the All-Star Game, the same is true of grand slams. It came courtesy of the decorated Fred Lynn, who eight years earlier had taken AL Rookie of the Year and MVP honors for the Red Sox. By 1983, Lynn was with the Angels and he helped turn the Midsummer Classic into a 13-3 blowout with a grand slam off Atlee Hammaker at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

1972: Hammerin’ Hank homers in Atlanta
Hank Aaron was already in the 3,000-hit club, and he had helped big league baseball get a firm foothold in the southeast after the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta prior to the 1966 season. He had just surprised a lot of folks by belting a career-high 47 homers in his age-37 season in ‘71, suddenly pushing himself within shouting distance of Babe Ruth’s all-time homer record by the time he bopped this homer to left at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in the ‘72 All-Star Game.

If the location of Aaron’s homer that night looks familiar, that’s because it wasn’t far off from where he’d knock his history-making 715th homer to pass the Babe less than two years later.

1971: Reggie and Roberto’s massive clouts
This was Reggie Jackson’s second All-Star Game with the A’s, and he had already led the AL in OPS in 1969. But with one mighty swing of the bat against Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, Jackson’s star was truly born here. Jackson walloped Ellis’ pitch way, way up until it clanked off a light tower above the right-field roof at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium -- a ball that traveled an estimated 539 feet (or even longer, depending on who you ask).

Jackson’s moonshot remains perhaps the most referenced All-Star Game homer in history, but Pirates starter Roberto Clemente might have hit one just as far when he homered to the second deck in right-center off Mickey Lolich.

1967: Perez finally ends it in the 15th
The 1967 game at Anaheim Stadium marked the longest Midsummer Classic at 15 innings, until the 2008 edition tied it. Pitching ruled the day as each team scored an early run and then didn’t cross home plate again after the sixth. Finally, Reds star Tony Perez stepped in against Catfish Hunter -- who was working his fifth inning in relief -- and belted a go-ahead homer in the top of the 15th, making it the latest All-Star homer ever hit. Tom Seaver shut the AL down in the bottom half to end the marathon.

1946: Eephus? Try again
Ted Williams might have owned the greatest batter’s eye in the history of baseball, so when Rip Sewell threw not one, not two, but three eephus pitches to Williams in the 1946 Midsummer Classic, there was no chance he was getting away with that chicanery. Williams launched the third lollipop delivery into the stratosphere and reportedly cackled as he rounded the bases.

1941: Teddy Ballgame walks it off
Few -- if any -- hitters have enjoyed a better season than Williams in 1941. Not only did the Splendid Splinter finish that year with a .406 average (still the most recent .400 season by any player), but he also authored one of the most indelible All-Star moments that July. Stepping into the box with two out and the AL trailing, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth, Williams drove a Claude Passeau pitch over the right-field wall at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium to walk it off for the Junior Circuit.

1933: Babe bops the first All-Star homer
The All-Star Game was originally intended to be a one-off spectacle in 1933 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, but its smashing success that day -- thanks in large part to the sport’s biggest star -- ensured it would be around in perpetuity. Babe Ruth led all players with more than 100,000 fan votes entering the game, and then he did what he did best by going deep off Cardinals pitcher Bill Hallahan for the first All-Star homer in the bottom of the third.