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Remembering the only All-Star Game at Camden Yards

It’s been 30 years since the Orioles hosted the Midsummer Classic. They are well overdue to do so again.

1993 All-Star Game

It has been 30 years since the Orioles and the city of Baltimore last played hosted to MLB’s All-Star festivities. The one and only time Camden Yards was used as the venue for the Midsummer Classic came way back in 1993. It’s a shame that it’s been so long. Oriole Park remains a crown jewel amongst the league’s stadiums that deserves some primetime shine, Not to mention, it put on quite a show three decades ago.

The moment that has endured the test of time best from that week actually during the annual Home Run Derby. Seattle Mariners center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. put on a show, including a long ball that hit off the bottom of the B&O Warehouse beyond Eutaw Street in right field.

Griffey remains the only player to hit the legendary structure in any competitive context since the stadium opened in 1992. It earned him a plaque on the spot he hit, similar to all home runs that have made it onto Eutaw Street in games played at Camden Yards. But it wasn’t enough for him to actually win the contest. That honor belonged to Juan González of the Texas Rangers.

Onto the game, which took place on Tuesday, July 13. The starting lineups featured just one Oriole, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., batting seventh for the AL and making his 11th All-Star appearance overall. O’s ace Mike Mussina was also on the AL roster as a reserve pitcher, and that would become an important storyline later on. Johnny Oates, the O’s skipper from 1991 through ‘94, served as first base coach for the junior circuit as well.

Baltimore brought out all the stops in their pre-game festivities. Baltimore’s own Al Kaline and Brooks Robinson were part of first pitch ceremonies. The United States Naval Academy presented the colors. Geddy Lee from Rush sang the Canadian National Anthem, and James Earl Jones recited the U.S. Anthem with the Morgan State University choir backing him. Fireworks over Fort McHenry and a flyover from the Air Force set the stage for baseball.

The NL took an early lead against California Angels pitcher Mark Langston when Gary Sheffield launched a two-run homer against him in the top of the first inning.

Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett got one back in the second inning, smacking a long ball off Philadelphia Phillies hurler Terry Mulholland to cut the lead in half.

The highlight of the third inning was an encounter between Phillies first baseman John Kruk and the Mariners’ Randy Johnson. The first pitch out of the Big Unit’s mighty left paw was a wayward fastball that went at least a foot over Kruk’s head in the left-handed batter’s box. Kruk waved the metaphorical white flag after that, bailing and flailing at three straight strikes to end the inning.

Blue Jays’ second baseman Roberto Alomar went deep to begin the bottom of the third, knotting the score at two runs apiece. That’s where it would stay until the fifth inning.

Texas backstop Ivan Rodriguez led of with a double, and came around to score on a base knock from Cleveland slugger Albert Belle. Belle moved to second on an error in right field and then crossed the plate on a single from Griffey. And Puckett drove in Griffey with a two-bagger into left field to make it a three-run frame for the AL.

The NL clawed one run back in the sixth. Barry Bonds led off with a double, scooted to third on a Sheffield single, and then scored on a Barry Larkin sacrifice fly.

But there would be no come back as the AL buried their competition in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Cleveland’s Carlos Baerga reached base on an error. A walk to Belle set up Toronto’s Devon White to drive in Baerga with a double. Atlanta’s John Smoltz came on in relief, but was all over the place. A wild pitch allowed Belle to score. Then came a walk, followed by another wild pitch to bring in White and make it 7-3. All three runs scored in the inning were unearned.

The final run of the game came in the seventh. Oakland’s Terry Steinback smacked a double to bring in Milwaukee’s Greg Vaughn to give us our final score of 8-3 in favor of the AL.

But that was not the end of the drama. With the AL leading going into the bottom of the ninth, Blue Jays manage Cito Gaston opted to bring in his own closer Duane Ward to get the final three outs while Mussina, the hometown favorite, remained in the ‘pen.

This, obviously, displeased the Camden Yards faithful. Ward was booed, and the crowd started chanting both “We want Mike” and “Cito sucks.” Mussina, for his part, fed into it a bit by making the decision to “throw a side session” during the ninth inning.

But was he wrong? After all, the All-Star Game is an exhibition that is meant to entertain the fans. The majority of fans in attendance backed the Orioles. The lead was safely in hand. It’s logical to want your guy in there, and there were only two Orioles on the entire roster. It would not have been tough to get them both in the game.

Mussina did not need to pitch the ninth inning specifically, but he could have been in the game at literally any other point, and Gaston still could have given a Blue Jay preferential treatment in the ninth. He chose not to. According to pitcher Pat Hentgen, this was not a spur of the moment decision on the manager’s part. He had told both Mussina and Hentgen prior to the game that he was not going to use them unless the game went into extra innings.

Gaston became a villain in Baltimore for the remainder of his career. T-shirts that said “Cito Sucks” were a common sight at Orioles games in the 90’s, and there is still a portion of the fanbase that will forever loathe the longtime Blue Jays skipper.

And so the first (and so far only) All-Star Game at Camden Yards came to an end. It’s unclear if/when the stadium will next be given the honor. The Rangers will host in 2024, and the Phillies have been given 2026, but there is a gap in 2025. Perhaps the O’s could fit in there.

The Orioles and the State of Maryland are currently playing a game of chicken with the lease at Camden Yards. It is expected that a deal will get done, but the current agreement runs out at the end of this season.

The state just last year agreed to $1.2 billion in improvements for both the Orioles and Ravens stadiums. That is a pretty sweet benefit that could go a long way towards sprucing up Camden Yards ahead of a hosting duties in the near future. Fingers crossed.