Ripken the star of the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto

With three Blue Jays and two Expos participating and Fergie Jenkins throwing out the first pitch, the 1991 All-Star Game had a distinctly Canadian feel. Fittingly, the contest’s winning pitcher was Blue Jay Jimmy Key, while Expos hurler Dennis Martinez shouldered the loss in an exciting match-up in front of 52,383 fans at SkyDome on July 9, 1991.

But it was baseball’s Iron Man, Cal Ripken, Jr., who would steal the show. Though not a classic power hitter, Ripken belted 12 homers in 22 swings in the home run derby on the day prior to the game. His output tripled that of his American League teammate Cecil Fielder and more than doubled the total of Paul O’Neill, the National League’s top contestant. Back then, the derby was a single-round format that pitted four sluggers from each league against each other. The league with the most cumulative homers won. On the strength of Ripken’s power surge, the American League out-homered the National League 20-7. Ripken would homer again in the all-star game the following day. His round-tripper was a three-run shot off of Martinez in the third inning.

Outside of the legendary shortstop’s heroics, however, there were plenty of Canadian connections in that game. Jays second baseman, Roberto Alomar, was voted an American League starter, while Key was named to the pitching staff and Joe Carter was added as a reserve. Cito Gaston was selected as one of the American League coaches by Tony LaRussa and Expos outfielder Ivan Calderon joined Martinez on the Senior Circuit team.

Other Canadian links included former Expo Andre Dawson belting a homer off of Roger Clemens in the fourth inning, and ex-Jay George Bell, now a Cub, participated in the home-run hitting contest for the National League squad.

Twelve future Hall of Famers toiled in the 1991 mid-summer classic, including Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn, Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray on the National League squad and Ripken, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Kirby Puckett and Paul Molitor for the American League.

The 1991 All-Star Game represented the second – and so far, last – time that the all-star game was held north of the border. Given that 19 years have passed, I would say it’s time for the mid-summer classic to return to Toronto.

7 thoughts on “Ripken the star of the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto

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  1. Agreed! It’s time to bring the All-Star game back to Toronto. Reading this article brought back many memories of former Blue Jays and Expos. That summer, our family drove across Canada and we saw the Expos and Blue Jays play. Fantastic article.

  2. Unfortunately, with the competitive until just recently Jays drawing only 15K per game, I don’t think that getting an all star game will be in the cards any time soon (unless the franchise relocates, of course … a possibility that is not entirely out of the question).

  3. That was a long time ago. (the good ole days?) I agree with Tony, with the Jays not drawing much this, or any year recently, and with a stadium that is past its prime, I don’t see the mid-summer classic returning any time soon.

  4. Iwas at the Homerun derby that year, and also went to the Fanfest. Ripken put on a great show that year, and I was cheering him on. I would love to see another All Star game in Toronto, but what is the next year up for grabs? 2012 is in Kansas City. How much longer do we have to wait?

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