By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim , who will host the 81st annual Major League Baseball All-Star game on Tuesday, may only be represented by one player and their manager, but team memories will be all over the field.
Torii Hunter will be a reserve for the American League and Mike Scioscia a coach. Team members are slightly miffed at having such sparse representation; especially missed is pitcher Jered Weaver, the leader in strikeouts in the big league.
However, the Halos have never been lacking for heroes. Leon Wagner, AKA “Daddy Wags,” played in three All-Star games for the Angels in 1962-3; yes, they had two All-Star games for a while, one in mid-season and one at the end of the season.
In the second ’62 game, he went three-for-four and hit a two-run home run, winning accolades as the MVP for the contest.
The All-Star Game came to Anaheim in 1967, in just the second season at the stadium. The Angels had three representatives in pitcher Jim McGlothlin, first baseman Don Mincher and shortstop Jim Fregosi (who played in five out of six All-Star contests). The story of the game was its length, going 15 innings before Tony Perez homered to give the National League a 2-1 win.
In 1983, Fred Lynn hit the most famous homer in All-Star history, a grand slam shot at Comiskey Park that lifted the American League to a 13-3 win. That snapped an 11-year winning streak for the senior circuit, and ever since the AL has dominated.
Anaheim hosted the contest again in 1989. The AL won the game, 5-3, but the lasting memory of the contest was a monster leadoff home run to deep center by Bo Jackson, who would be named most valuable player.
Garrett Anderson was MVP in 2003, winning also the Home Run Derby.
This week’s contest will be the first in Anaheim since the stadium was totally renovated back into a baseball-only facility, after the departure of the Rams.
Nostalgia and glory aside, it’s tough to state exactly how much the game means to the city that hosts it. In a typical year, the economic impact is estimated at between $50 and $60 million based both on tourism and the value of concentrated national publicity.
And, of course, the league that wind the game gets the home-field advantage in the World Series. If the Angels can get past the Texas Rangers in the second half of 2010, what happens on Tuesday might just have another kind of effect on Anaheim.