The Oakland Athletics had more players named to Major League Baseball’s 85th Mid-Summer Classic, held Tuesday at Minnesota’s Target Field, than any other team in all of baseball.. Technically, the A’s had six players named to the American League’s roster and one to the National League’s roster, for a total of seven players from Oakland attending the game. Unfortunately, the seventh and final player was not eligible to play in the game but he was still there, giving the Athletics the most All-Stars they’ve had in an All-Star game since moving to Oakland in 1968.
Six Oakland A’s were named to the A.L. All-Star roster each year from 1972-1975. Though they only had one player start the game in 2014, each of the six eligible players got a chance to play in the game, something that cannot be said for the ’72, ’73, ’74 and ’75 Oakland All-Stars.
While the 1972 team had the most players starting the game and two of those teams’ had A’s as starting pitchers, the Oakland A’s have never had an All-Star team in which all six eligible players got into the game until now. The team had also not had a position player on the roster since 2003 when Ramon Hernandez was elected as one of the A.L.’s reserve catchers. So how did this group of All-Stars fare in their debuts on one of baseball’s biggest stages? Let’s take a look:
So how did this group of All-Stars fare in their debuts on one of baseball’s biggest stages? Let’s take a look:
Josh Donaldson, starting third baseman:
Donaldson was voted into the All-Star game by the fans as the starting third baseman for the A.L. He was 0-2 with a strike out and a scary head-first slide into first that must have made his teammates and coaches all cringe. Regarding the slide, Donaldson blamed A’s teammate Nick Punto, telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser,
“I never do that, I don’t know why I did that, It’s Punto’s fault. I won’t do it again.”
A collective sigh of relief was released, I’m sure, by all.
Scott Kazmir, pitcher:
The ace of the A’s staff allowed a single in the sixth inning but recorded two outs, one being a strikeout. Lucky for the two A’s pitchers who pitched in the game their catcher was teammate Derek Norris.
Sean Doolittle, pitcher:
Oakland’s star closer Sean Doolittle came in to pitch the eighth inning and faced three batters. He did allow a single to Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves but was true to his usual form striking out the other two batters, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo both of the Chicago Cubs, maintaining the A.L.’s 5-3 lead. Doolittle told the San Jose Mercury News that knowing he was going to pitch to Norris calmed him down, so did playing with his teammates. He
“I think having (Norris) back there really helped calm me down. Coming into the game in that situation in this stage, when I was jogging in my heart was going a thousand miles an hour. I passed Cespedes in the outfield and we kind of joked, and then I’m jogging into the game and D-No’s waiting for me at the mound with a ridiculous smile on his face….The biggest thing was sharing this with so many teammates. It was a lot more fun that way.”
Derek Norris, reserve catcher:
Derek Norris, one of Oakland’s three catchers and the only one to make the All-Star roster, was voted in on the player’s ballot. He had, by far, the best night at Tuesday’s All-Star game. Before even entering the game he had a funny exchange with the Captain of the New York Yankees and undeniable star of the night, starting shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter who will be retiring after the season and has played with the Yankees, under their strict no-facial hair rule, for his entire career hugged each person in the A.L. dugout upon exiting the game. According to Norris, when it was time for his hug, Jeter said,
“He was telling me he can’t wait for the year to be done so he can finally grow a beard and compete with me – those were his words. He told me the next time the A’s come to New York he’s going to make sure he is in town so he can show me his beard he’s going to grow out.”
That’s a pretty big deal, being told by a living legend that he wants to beat you at something, I’m sure. An even bigger moment for Norris came earlier in the fifth inning. He singled and later scored the A.L.’s fourth and go-ahead run on a double by Jeter. The Los Angeles Angel’s Mike Trout may have won the MVP award for the night but Norris, like everyone else, knew,
“It was Jeter’s All-Star Game,” he said. Adding, “I think he sweats cologne.”
Brandon Moss, reserve first baseman/outfielder:
Moss had a similar assessment of Jeter’s smell as Norris did saying,
“Amazing. He smells so good.”
Moss, who entered the game in the sixth playing right field, only got one at-bat in the game which ended in a strike out but he didn’t seem to mind it.
“I didn’t go deep, but by God, I was giving myself a chance,” Moss said. “I swung hard.”
Yoenis Cespedes, reserve outfielder:
Cespedes, who entered the game in the sixth alongside Moss, played in left field and was able to get two chances at the plate. He ended up going 0-2 but he got to play along with this Oakland teammates and friends.
Jeff Samardzija, pitcher, ineligible:
Samardzija, who is one of the newest members of the Oakland Athletics, was traded to the A’s approximately ten days prior to the game from the National League Chicago Cubs. He, along with both clubs, found out post-trade that he had been named to the All-Star Game for his work with the Cubs. It was decided that his playing in the game for either side would represent a conflict of interest especially since the Athletics, who have baseball’s best record going into the second half of play, had a vested interest in the seeing the A.L. win the game and gain home field advantage in the World Series. It seems fair enough and Samardzija took his role in stride, understandingly telling reporters,
“That’s a little far down the road – but it’s like putting money in the bank. That’s what you want to do for a rainy day, just in case. It could wind up being important.”
Able to participate in the festivities but not the game, Samardzija made the most of his first All-Star experience and had fun with his teammates old and new. He was spotted bonding with his new teammates, sporting an A’s pullover and sitting in the A.L. dugout during the game, however. He knows where he now belongs and used the extra time to bond with his Oakland teammates.
“It was hectic,” Samardzija said. “I think everyone was as confused as I was, it had never happened before. But ultimately, I was kind of lucky because I got to meet two teams of All-Stars, which I don’t think many people get to do.”
He was also able to get a hug from the delicious smelling Jeter,
“There you go, you get a little bit of everything,” Samardzija said. “I was all over the place, making sure I was getting plenty of lovin’ from everyone.”
The A’s on the whole got a lot of love this All-Star game. Each of them getting to hug a living Yankee legend, enjoying each other’s company and each of Oakland’s All-Stars got a chance to participate in the American League’s 5-3 win over the National League. It may be too soon to speculate about what that win might mean but as Samardzija put it – it’s money in the bank for the Athletics.