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Each and every year, as the dog days of summer drag on, the baseball world stops midseason for an annual celebration of the game’s best and brightest stars.
This year’s All-Star Game, the 92nd in Major League history, brought the Midsummer Classic back to Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1980.
It was a celebration of Los Angeles on the field as all the stars came out for the big event.
Ben Platt of Dear Evan Hansen fame sang the National Anthem, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington paid tribute to Jackie Robinson, Top Gun star Miles Teller posed with pilots from the flyover, and Dodgers’ legend Fernando Valenzuela, who made his MLB debut in 1980, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
But despite all the glitz and glamor throughout the week leading up to the game, the future stars, the celebrities, the Home Run Derby, and red carpet arrivals, the 2022 All-Star Game belonged to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is a nine-time All-Star, but never in his illustrious career as he started the game. So it was only fitting that Kershaw stole the spotlight, starting the game out with a scoreless first inning, and a standing ovation as he walked off the mound.
“It was special,” said Kershaw after the game. “I’ll remember this 10 years from now. I just had a blast. I don’t know if I have the right words for it right now. It was such a unique experience for me. I think I will look back on it and be really thankful I got that opportunity.”
His teammate Freddie Freeman agreed.
“As a baseball fan that’s what we all came for,” said Freeman. “Clayton Kershaw, future Hall-of-Famer gets to pitch in his own stadium in front of fanbase that has cheered him on since he was a kid. I think everyone was looking forward to that and he didn’t disappoint.”
Most of Los Angeles was hoping to see an All-Star starting pitching matchup of Kershaw versus two-way sensation Shoehi Ohtani of the nearby LA Angels.
Ohtani opted not to pitch in this All-Star game, but instead led off the game in the batter’s box against Kershaw and vowed to swing at the first pitch he saw.
True to his word, Ohtani lined a 91-MPH first pitch fastball into centerfield for a leadoff single that kicked off the game.
A few pitches later, Kershaw picked off Ohtani leading too far off of first base.
“I didn’t want him on first base at all,” joked Kershaw. “Honestly, I didn’t know what pitch I wanted to throw yet. Sometimes I throw over there to first base to give myself a second to be convicted with the next pitch I want to throw. I wasn’t trying to pick him off. I was trying to delay the game for a bit, but thankfully it worked out.”
But Kershaw wasn’t the only Dodgers All-Star to impact the game.
The National League All-Stars struck first when Dodgers’ outfielder Mookie Betts singled home Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. in the bottom of the first inning.
“It was good to be able to put it in play. He was throwing 100MPH, but I was able to find a hole,” said Betts of the RBI.
Two batters later, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt sent a four-seam fastball into the left field pavilion for a 2-0 lead.
But just as the Dodgers All-Stars giveth, they also taketh away. Tony Gonsolin came out of the bullpen to pitch the top of the fourth inning and served up a 457-foot bomb to LA-native Giancarlo Stanton that tied the game at 2-2.
Stanton grew up in nearby Panorama City, and went to Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks was named the All-Star Game MVP. The New York Yankees’ slugger said he would frequently flock to Dodger Stadium as a kid, sitting in the left field pavilion, exactly where his game-tying home run landed.
“I can’t explain how special this is. It’s hard to put into words that this is reality right now. It’s really cool. I’m soaking it all in,” said Stanton. “I would try and make sure I saw McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds when they came into town. All that wraps around in full circle…I would always come early to batting practice and try and catch home run balls. During games I caught some foul balls as well.”
One batter later, Bryan Buxton hit a home run into the NL bullpen to give the American League All-Stars the lead 3-2. A lead they would never relinquish.
The American League won the game 3-2, their ninth consecutive victory in the Midsummer Classic. Fans rooting for the National League to tie the game, forcing the first ever Home Run Derby tie-breaker, were disappointed, instead they had to settle for Stanton’s mammoth blast.
At the end of the day, it was a perfect night in the City of Stars. The 52,518 in attendance cheered their hometown heroes as fans from across the globe that flocked to Chavez Ravine for the very same reason did the same.
Just as the adults who were in attendance at Dodger Stadium the last time the All-Star game was here passed down those stories to the next generation, hopefully those in attendance on Tuesday will do the same.
American League Holds Off National League 3-2 in 92nd All-Star Game Featuring Plenty of Dodgers Stars
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