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Ryan Wagner's Favorite All-Star Game Moment

Over almost 26 years of watching baseball, I have had many memories to hold onto. When thinking specifically about the MLB All-Star Game, there are many to choose from, whether it's Barry Bonds running out into centerfield to pick up Torii Hunter after Torii made one of his signature home run-stealing catches, or Ted Williams being brought onto the field at Fenway Park and the reactions of all the current legends of the game meeting possibly the game's greatest legend ever.

For a kid from Baltimore, however, there is one that sticks out. Cal Ripken Jr. was probably not an All-Star in his final season. He batted just .239 in 2001 and his days of winning two MVP awards and eight Silver Sluggers were behind him. But because of his reputation, Cal was a fixture at the Midsummer Classic, and 2001 was no exception. There were two events that year that will always stand out, simply because everyone in the country was paying special attention, knowing that this was the last time we would see the Iron Man take the field on that stage.

I have always thought of Alex Rodriguez as a tremendous ballplayer, but on that night in 2001, I thought of him more as a tremendous guy. Alex was the starting shortstop for the AL that season, but when they took the field in the top of the first, he allowed (more like shoved) Cal to take his spot at short, moving over to third base. Though Cal played third base for the final six years of his career, he will always be remembered as the guy who reinvented the shortstop position. Once Cal showed that a tall, muscular athlete could play that position, and play it extremely well, the doors were open for guys like Rodriguez, Garciaparra, and Jeter. Rodriguez has long said that Ripken was his idol, so being able to pay Cal this one last respect must have been a great feeling. And for everyone watching at home, seeing Cal back home at short was quite a thrill.

But Cal wasn't done. In his first at-bat, he reminded everyone why he would be revered as one of the best of his generation. Facing Chan Ho Park, and while most of the crowd in attendance were still on their feet and cheering, Cal hit a home run to left field. It was one final memory in what had been a long and storied All-Star career. That home run was one of two hits, and led to another accolade: All-Star Game MVP. Not a bad way to end a string of 19 consecutive All-Star Game appearances.

I'm sure as I continue to watch baseball, I'll find many more memories to hold onto. But for that one day, our guy was number one. And that, above everything else, is my favorite All-Star Game moment.

Vote for your favorite All-Star Game moment by visiting Midsummer Classics.

Over almost 26 years of watching baseball, I have had many memories to hold onto. When thinking specifically about the MLB All-Star Game, there are many to choose from, whether it's Barry Bonds running out into centerfield to pick up Torii Hunter after Torii made one of his signature home run-stealing catches, or Ted Williams being brought onto the field at Fenway Park and the reactions of all the current legends of the game meeting possibly the game's greatest legend ever.

For a kid from Baltimore, however, there is one that sticks out. Cal Ripken Jr. was probably not an All-Star in his final season. He batted just .239 in 2001 and his days of winning two MVP awards and eight Silver Sluggers were behind him. But because of his reputation, Cal was a fixture at the Midsummer Classic, and 2001 was no exception. There were two events that year that will always stand out, simply because everyone in the country was paying special attention, knowing that this was the last time we would see the Iron Man take the field on that stage.

I have always thought of Alex Rodriguez as a tremendous ballplayer, but on that night in 2001, I thought of him more as a tremendous guy. Alex was the starting shortstop for the AL that season, but when they took the field in the top of the first, he allowed (more like shoved) Cal to take his spot at short, moving over to third base. Though Cal played third base for the final six years of his career, he will always be remembered as the guy who reinvented the shortstop position. Once Cal showed that a tall, muscular athlete could play that position, and play it extremely well, the doors were open for guys like Rodriguez, Garciaparra, and Jeter. Rodriguez has long said that Ripken was his idol, so being able to pay Cal this one last respect must have been a great feeling. And for everyone watching at home, seeing Cal back home at short was quite a thrill.

But Cal wasn't done. In his first at-bat, he reminded everyone why he would be revered as one of the best of his generation. Facing Chan Ho Park, and while most of the crowd in attendance were still on their feet and cheering, Cal hit a home run to left field. It was one final memory in what had been a long and storied All-Star career. That home run was one of two hits, and led to another accolade: All-Star Game MVP. Not a bad way to end a string of 19 consecutive All-Star Game appearances.

I'm sure as I continue to watch baseball, I'll find many more memories to hold onto. But for that one day, our guy was number one. And that, above everything else, is my favorite All-Star Game moment.

Vote for your favorite All-Star Game moment by visiting Midsummer Classics.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.