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On This Date in Sports July 12, 1994: All-Star before the Storm

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Amidst the dark clouds of the looming baseball strike, the All-Star Game is played at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. The National League would end a six-game losing streak, winning 8-7 in ten innings. Trailing in the ninth the NL ties the game on a two-run homer by Fred McGriff is named MVP, while Moises Alou walk-off double scores Tony Gwynn with the winning run in the tenth.

The battle lines were being drawn the trenches were built, as the 1994 midsummer classic came to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1974. The owners were steadfast in their demand for a salary cap, claiming the loss of television revenue due to the poorly negotiated “Baseball Network”. The Baseball Network was a cooperative between NBC and ABC splitting a now more limited national coverage with the All-Star Game airing on NBC. At the All-Star Game, the players announced a one-month deadline to reach a settlement before they would walk off the job.

Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves got the start for the National League managed by Jim Fregosi of the Philadelphia Phillies, while Cito Gaston the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays chose Jimmy Key of the New York Yankees to start for the American League. Each team would plate a run in the first inning with Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox singling in Wade Boggs of the Yankees, while Gregg Jeffries of the St. Louis Cardinals scored on a sacrifice fly by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, after leading off with a double.

Maddux would end up pitching three innings without allowing another run, while David Cone of the Kansas City Royals was hit hard in the third, as the NL scored three runs with Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres doubling home Jeffries and Jeff Bagwell of the Houston Astros. Gwynn would later score himself on a single by Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ken Hill of the Montreal Expos pitched two strong innings, as the score remained 4-1 after five innings.

In the sixth inning, the American League rallied to tie the game against Doug Drabek of the Houston Astros, as Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners played a key part in the rally, while Matt Williams’ throwing error on a ball hit by Blue Jays World Series hero Joe Carter led to an additional two runs scoring. The National League grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the sixth as Marquis Grissom of the Montreal Expos homered off Mariners hard-throwing lefty Randy Johnson. However, the lead would be short-lived as Danny Jackson of the Phillies sputtered on the mound, leading to another three-run rally by the American League. Inheriting two runners from John Hudek of the Astros, Jackson was created by a double off the bat of Scott Cooper from the Boston Red Sox. He would come in to score with Chuck Knoblauch of the Minnesota Twins on a single by Cleveland Indians Outfielder Kenny Lofton. Jackson would also give to Will Clark of the Texas Rangers, and left without recording an out.

The NL would escape further damage, as Rod Beck of the Giants stranded two runners in scoring position to keep his team in the game at 7-5. Beck also pitched the eighth, while National League failed to score against Pat Hetgen of the Blue Jays and Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox, while Randy Myers from the Chicago Cubs pitched around a single in the ninth.

Leading 5-3, the American League looked to win its seventh straight All-Star Game with Lee Smith of the Baltimore Orioles pitching the ninth. Smith got in trouble right away as Grissom led off with a walk. Smith would get Craig Biggio of the Astros to hit into a fielder’s choice as Braves slugger Fred McGriff was called on to pinch-hit. McGriff would proceed to hit a game-tying two-run homer, turning the All-Star Game on its ear. Smith would retire the next two batters as the All-Star Game went into extra innings.

Doug Jones of the Phillies pitched around two hits in the tenth, as he struck out Knoblauch to end the inning. Jason Bere of the White Sox would get the call for the AL in the tenth and found himself in trouble right away by giving up a single to Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres on the first pitch he threw. Two pitches later Gwynn would come in to score the winning run, sliding in ahead of Rangers catcher Ivan Rodrguez’s tag as Moises Alou of the Expos doubled in the gap to win the game 8-7 for the National League.

It would be the last moment of joy for the 1994 season, as a player strike began on schedule on August 12th, wiping out the playoffs and World Series.