Buxton brings 'trucker horn' tribute to big stage

July 20th, 2022

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It took Byron Buxton such an arduous journey to finally get to this point.

In every photo, every video, every sound bite coming out of the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles, Buxton wore the biggest grin across his face, seemingly enjoying so much the fruits of his labor. After putting together a healthy first half for only the second time in his career, undergoing countless hours of treatment on his right knee before games to stay on the field with his team, it looked like he relished every last minute. He earned it.

And once he got between the lines in the showcase of the game’s biggest stars, he shone brighter than ever.

Giancarlo Stanton crushed a baseball out to left field, tying the game, 2-2. Buxton stepped up next against Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who was coming off an 11-0 first half, and got a fastball almost at shoulder level.

If there’s anything to know about Buxton, it’s that he doesn’t miss the fastball upstairs. It ended up 425 feet away in the left-field seats, the decisive run in a 3-2 victory for the American League.

As Buxton always does at Target Field, he looked into his dugout when he began his trot around the bases, raised his arms, and started pumping his fist up and down in the air in the “trucker horn” celebration he has started this year to celebrate his big hits, a tribute to his father, longtime truck driver Felton Buxton II.

A replay later showed that Aaron Judge and Julio Rodríguez were doing the celebration right back at him with big grins. When Buxton rounded the bases and crossed home plate, he found Twins teammate Luis Arráez waiting for him, arm raised in the same trucker salute.

“Kind of just went up there and was like, 'I can't strike out twice,' you know?” Buxton said in his postgame interview on FOX. “In the back of your head, you've obviously got that thought, 'Man, your first All-Star Game, you want to get up there and just get a base hit.' I put a better swing on it than I thought.”

Here’s all that’s remarkable about that blast from the superstar center fielder:

• Buxton was only the fourth Twins player to homer in an All-Star Game, joining Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett and, most recently, Brian Dozier.

• Buxton is the seventh center fielder to go deep in an All-Star Game since the turn of the century, joining the star-studded list of Andruw Jones, Ichiro Suzuki, Melky Cabrera, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and George Springer.

• At 4.04 feet high, the pitch was the fourth-highest hit for a homer in the Majors all season.

• Per STATS, Inc., Buxton and Stanton were the first players to go back to back with game-tying and go-ahead homers in All-Star Game history.

By the way, Buxton’s triumph was also a victory for beer drinkers around America. It just so happened that Budweiser was running a sweepstakes during the game, offering a chance at an autographed jersey and a “season’s worth of beer” if any player homered into the bullpens during the Midsummer Classic. Wouldn’t you know it -- that’s where Buxton’s blast landed.

Truly, a man of the people.