Fit to be tied
All-Star Game called when teams run out of pitchersPosted: Tuesday July 09, 2002 11:13 PM
Updated: Wednesday July 10, 2002 9:57 PM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Cal Ripken helped baseball begin the night by celebrating many of its most memorable moments.
By the time the All-Star Game ended, the sport had another -- but one it wants to forget.
Despite Barry Bonds homering and being robbed by a spectacular catch from Torii Hunter, fans booed and threw bottles when the game was declared a 7-7 tie after 11 innings Tuesday night because both teams ran out of pitchers.
"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the fans," commissioner Bud Selig said. "This is a very regrettable situation."
Amid worries about a players' strike and steroids, the bizarre ending may just have been the first work stoppage this season.
"This is terrible. These guys are going on strike and they're doing this now?" fan Tim Dugan of Chicago said. "We've been ripped off."
The sellout crowd of 41,871 at Miller Park loudly chanted "Let them play!" and "Refund!" as Freddy Garcia struck out Benito Santiago to finish it. A few fans in right field tossed bottles to protest the decision, which came after Selig conferred with both managers.
Selig, who lives in Milwaukee and formerly ran the Brewers, had hoped the summer showcase would let baseball take a one-day break from its troubles.
Guess again. And no MVP was picked, either. Bad timing, too, since the award was renamed this week to honor Ted Williams, the Hall of Famer who died Friday.
This was the second tie in All-Star history, the other coming in 1961 when it was stopped by rain.
It also marked the second time in nine years that an All-Star Game finished with fans booing. In 1993, the crowd at Camden Yards jeered as AL manager Cito Gaston of Toronto let Blue Jays closer Duane Ward wrap up a 9-3 win while Baltimore's Mike Mussina warmed up in the bullpen.
"The decision was made because there were no players left, no pitchers left," Selig said. "This is not the ending I had hoped for. I was in a no-win situation."
While players said they understood the decision -- many games in spring training are stopped for the very same reason -- the crowd did not.
"With everything going on in baseball, I'm sure the fans were very upset," Hunter said.
It became apparent that a tie was possible after the top of the 11th when AL manager Joe Torre, NL manager Bob Brenly and umpire crew chief Gerry Davis went over to talk with Selig in the front row next to the first-base dugout.
At one point during the five-minute discussion, Selig threw up his arms.
"I feel bad for Bud," Torre said. "Bob and I had talked. You can't have it both ways. You can't have all the people see all the players."
After Luis Castillo flied out to start the bottom of the 11th, the stadium public-address announcer informed the crowd of the news, saying a tie would be declared if the NL didn't score in the bottom half.
Fans, however, were not told why the game would be halted.
"They treated it like it was a meaningless game," said David Cuscuna of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "They're telling the fans this game doesn't matter. Not to mention the $175 face value for tickets. It sends a lot of bad messages."
Garcia and Vicente Padilla, who finished for the NL, each pitched two innings. All 60 players -- including 10 NL pitchers and nine in the AL -- were used, prompting Selig to raise the possibility of increasing future rosters.
"They made the right decision. It's only a friendly game," Milwaukee shortstop Jose Hernandez said. "The fans weren't expecting that ending, but they've got to understand. I know they want to see a great game, but there's no more guys in the bullpen."
The result left intact the AL's five-game winning streak. The NL leads the overall series 40-31 -- and now with two ties.
The night got off to an entertaining and poignant start.
Aaron, Mays and Ripken were part of a celebration that honored the sport's past. Then there was a tribute to Williams, featuring his friend, Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, and two other Red Sox players unveiling the No. 9 painted into left field to remember the "Splendid Splinter."
Baseball also paused to remember St. Louis pitcher Darryl Kile and Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck. Kile's No. 57 jersey hung in the NL dugout and Buck's widow was in attendance.
Bonds' two-run shot off the facade of the second deck gave the NL a 4-0 lead in the third. It was fitting the San Francisco slugger connected on this night -- he and Williams are perhaps the two greatest left fielders in history.
"This is great. This is fun," Bonds said when he left after three innings. "What they did with the memorable moments was great."
Bonds also got a firsthand look at Hunter, the Minnesota center fielder known for astounding catches.
With two outs in the first, Bonds launched a long drive to deep right-center field. Hunter glided into the gap, timed his leap and reached far over the fence -- his elbow was way above the 8-foot wall -- to pull the ball back into the park.
Bonds, who has 594 career home runs, and the fans could hardly believe that he'd been robbed of another shot. As Hunter came jogging off the field, Bonds playfully intercepted the Gold Glove winner in the middle of the field, hoisted the Twins star with two hands and put him over his shoulder.
"He said, 'Hey, good job,'" Hunter said. "Then he tried to dunk me, but I wouldn't let him."
When Hunter came to bat in the second, Bonds and several other NL stars stood at their positions and watched the replay on the center-field video board.
Hunter called it his best catch ever.
"I had to go get that," he said.
Lance Berkman, leading the majors with 29 home runs and 81 RBIs, hit a two-out, two-run single off Kazuhiro Sasaki in the seventh inning that put the NL ahead 7-6. The Houston outfielder delivered after Byung-Hyun Kim blew a lead in the top half.
Omar Vizquel, making a rare appearance at second base because the AL had five shortstops on its roster, made it 7-all with an RBI triple in the eighth off Giants closer Robb Nen.
Notes: Sammy Sosa was 0-for-9 in All-Star play before singling in the second. ... Next year's All-Star Game is at Comiskey Park in Chicago, followed by Houston in 2004. Selig said he is not committed to alternating AL and NL sites beyond that.