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Legends game ends in tie; Gonzalez wins Derby

MLB.com

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The rain held off just long enough Saturday for some of baseball's biggest legends to put on a show in front of more than 6,000 fans at Doubleday Field in the sixth annual Hall of Fame Classic.

Though the game started as a pitchers' duel, it quickly turned into a bit of a slugfest, courtesy of former Major Leaguers Ivan Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Luis Gonzalez and Jack Wilson, all of whom connected for late-game home runs.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The rain held off just long enough Saturday for some of baseball's biggest legends to put on a show in front of more than 6,000 fans at Doubleday Field in the sixth annual Hall of Fame Classic.

Though the game started as a pitchers' duel, it quickly turned into a bit of a slugfest, courtesy of former Major Leaguers Ivan Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Luis Gonzalez and Jack Wilson, all of whom connected for late-game home runs.

Ultimately, an afternoon downpour cut the exhibition short, just moments after Rodriguez tied the game at 4 with a two-run shot. The tie preserved Hall of Famer Phil Niekro's undefeated record in the Hall of Fame Classic. Niekro, the winning skipper in each of the previous Classics, managed the American League squad, while fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith led the National League. Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers and Eddie Murray rounded out the coaching staffs.

As for the players, the game featured one former big leaguer representing each of the 30 Major League teams. That list included former MVPs, Cy Young winners, World Series MVPs and even a member of the 600-home run club in Jim Thome.

Surprisingly enough, however, Thome did not win the pregame Home Run Derby. That honor instead went to former Major League infielder Alex Gonzalez, who hit 137 home runs during his 13-year career from 1994-2006.

"I thought Jim Thome was going to be the favorite," Gonzalez said afterward. "Him or Mike Sweeney. "They just have the natural home run swing, where they get in a groove and you just can't beat them. It's just great that the Hall of Fame is able to put this kind of function together."

In addition to those already mentioned, the game also featured former big league stars such as three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, 10-time All-Star Steve Garvey, World Series MVP and two-time champion David Eckstein and a number of others.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. Marty Noble is a columnist for MLB.com.