Time for another… Triple-A All-Star Flashback!
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.
The 1992 Triple-A All-Star Game was the fifth one played. This game was loaded with future major league stars, including a first for the Triple-A All-Star Game: a player who is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame – although please pardon any viewers who weren’t aware that they were watching a future Hall of Famer at the time.
Albuquerque catcher Mike Piazza got in the game late, going 0-for-1 in his only plate appearance. Just to show where he stood at the time: he was the third catcher used by the National League, behind starter Bob Natal (Indianapolis) and Steve Decker (Phoenix).
Piazza was not considered much of a prospect in the minors. His story is actually incredible: he was picked in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, and the main reason he was chosen at all was because his father was friends with Tommy Lasorda.
But 1992 was the year Piazza’s career changed. He opened the season at Double-A San Antonio and batted .377 in the first 31 games of the year, so he would have joined Albuquerque in early/mid-May. In the two months before the Triple-A All-Star Game was played on July 15, he made a big enough impression to make the roster.
Piazza hit .344 with 16 homers in 94 games for Albuquerque, got called up on September 1st, and the rest is history.
After playing the 1992 All-Star Game, Piazza went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1993. Remarkably, he was not the only one to win a ROY award the next year.
Edmonton outfielder Tim Salmon started for the American League in the 1992 Triple-A All-Star Game, going 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. In 1993, Salmon hit .285 with 31 home runs for the Angels and took home the AL Rookie of the Year trophy.
Yet another future superstar appeared in the 1992 game: Columbus outfielder Bernie Williams came off the bench for the AL and went hitless in his only at-bat. He became one of the anchors of the New York Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s, appearing in six World Series (and winning four).
And that’s not all for future major league stars in the 1992 game. The Mariners were represented by Calgary second baseman Brett Boone, who started and went 0-for-3.
The Mariners actually traded Boone to the Cincinnati Reds when he was a young player, then re-acquired him later in his career. The M’s had Boone in his prime, during the early 2000s, and he was a key member of the 2001 Mariners team that won 116 games.
1992 Triple-A All-Star Game Fun Facts:
- This game was loaded with future major leaguers. In addition to the stars noted above, the game featured Ed Sprague (who was a starting catcher for the AL; he converted to third base and a MLB career was born), Jeff Conine, Damion Easley, Henry Rodriguez, and Bob Wickman.
- Despite all of those hitting stars, the game was a pitcher’s duel. The American League won it, 2-1.
- The game was played at The Diamond in Richmond, Virginia – a stadium which was never able to get updated to modern Triple-A standards, and currently serves as a Double-A ballpark. The game drew a nice crowd of 12,186.
- The Atlanta Braves had a big pitching prospect who was supposed to start the game in front of the hometown fans: Richmond Braves right-hander David Nied. But a pregame rain delay of 1 hour, 32 minutes ended that plan. Nied had already warmed up twice before the game was finally able to start, so the Braves pulled him. Nied gained fame the following year when the Colorado Rockies selected him with their first pick in the expansion draft. Nied was the starting pitcher in the first game in Rockies history, but he was felled by arm troubles and retired a few years later.
- The managers were Denver’s Tony Muser and Richmond’s Chris Chambliss. Muser became a major league manager for Kansas City, while Chambliss had a lifetime of playing and coaching in the majors, and managing in the minors. Chambliss even spent some time as the Mariners hitting coach.
- Our guy Bob Robertson – the Voice of the Tacoma Tigers – did the national radio broadcast along with Richmond announcer Bob Black.
- Other than Bob, Tacoma’s all-star was infielder Gus Polidor. At this point in his career Polidor was trying to get back to the major leagues – a goal he briefly achieved in 1993. He met an unfortunate demise.
- The 1992 game was the only one ever to not have a Home Run Derby scheduled. The reason why is lost in the annals of time.
- Veteran outfielder Daniel Robertson – a key player for the 2016 Rainiers who became a free agent after the season – has signed with the Cleveland Indians.
- USS Mariner’s marc w takes a deep look at the Mariners recent roster moves.
- D.J. Peterson‘s younger brother Dustin is making noise in the Atlanta Braves farm system.
- Ralph Branca passed away at age 90. Can you imagine going 75% of your life known as the pitcher who gave up the most famous home run in baseball history? He had a good career, but that’s not what people remember.
- The story of Fresno first baseman Jon Singleton and his one-of-a-kind contract took another turn.
- In the Thanksgiving spirit, the Mariners chef explains how to make a King’s Court turkey leg in this two-minute video.
Have a great holiday weekend!