Triple-A All-Star Flashback: Juan Gonzalez Gives A Preview

It’s been a great World Series so far, I hope you have been enjoying it as I have. It’s going to be wild if this thing goes seven games.

Not much in Mariners news lately – we do have a few links down below – so let’s do another of the Triple-A All-Star Game Flashbacks. I’ve been having fun researching these, hopefully they are fun for you too.

Tacoma is hosting the 30th annual Triple-A All-Star Game at Cheney Stadium on July 12. We’ll spend the winter looking back at the previous years, to give fans an idea what they can expect in Tacoma this summer.

1990

The third Triple-A All-Star Game was the first held in a Pacific Coast League ballpark. Just to show how time flies by, it was shiny, sort-of-new-at-the-time Cashman Field in Las Vegas which received the honor. In 2016, Cashman would be just about last in line to host the game.

The biggest future star in this game was Oklahoma City outfielder Juan Gonzalez, who became one of the most dangerous hitters in the major leagues and won two AL Most Valuable Player awards for the Texas Rangers (1996 and 1998). He hit 40+ home runs in five different seasons.

The fans in Vegas got to see a young Juan Gone go deep – just like he was about to do 434 times in major league games. He went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs, but his American League club lost the all-star game to the NL, 8-5.

Future Mariners infielder Luis Sojo – he of the key clutch hits in the M’s 1995 run to the playoffs – became the first player to get four hits in a Triple-A All-Star Game. Suiting up for Syracuse, Sojo batted leadoff for the AL and went 4-for-5 with a triple.

We had an honor in this one: Scott Chiamparino became the first Tacoma pitcher to start the all-star game. The Oakland A’s prospect – remember, we were the Tacoma Tigers back then – went 13-9, 3.28 in the PCL.

Tacoma also had a reliever in the game, Joe Bitker. In an odd twist, both Chiamparino and Bitker were traded to the Texas Rangers at the end of that PCL season for productive designated hitter Harold Baines.

Chiamparino’s all-star start didn’t go very well: three innings pitched, four runs allowed, and a loss. At least Bitker tossed a scoreless inning.

1990 Triple-A All-Star Game Fun Facts:

  • For the third straight year, we had a future MLB manager at the helm of one of the teams. Albuquerque’s Kevin Kennedy managed the NL squad; he would go on to manage the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox.
  • Not only did Juan Gonzalez homer in the game, but he also won the Home Run Derby by out-slugging the likes of Eddie Williams, Lee Stevens, and Hensley “Bam Bam” Muelens.
  • Current Seattle Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre pitched a scoreless inning in the game. Stottlemyre was representing Omaha, and this was his only Triple-A All-Star Game. Six days after the game, he made his major league debut with Kansas City.
  • All-Stars who would go on to have long major league careers included David Segui, Jose Offerman, Bernard Gilkey, Dave Hansen, and Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten.
  • One of the best names in Triple-A All-Star Game history graced the 1990 box score: Columbus reliever Kevin Mmahat pitched a scoreless inning. Mmmm, a hat.
  • Token radio guy tidbit: one of the broadcasters was Las Vegas play-by-play man Ken Korach, who is currently the voice of the Oakland A’s.

Links:

Enjoy Game Six and Game Seven (if necessary). We’ll be back with a new post on Thursday.

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