Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel will represent the Cubs in the All-Star Game in Denver tonight. Neither is likely to play more than an inning or two, one in Kimbrel’s case, and Bryant might get one at-bat, maybe two.
In past years, though, some Cubs have had memorable appearances in the All-Star Game. Here are five worth noting.
1952: Hank Sauer’s home run wins a rain-shortened game
This is the only All-Star Game that did not go at least nine innings, shortened to a five-inning affair by rain in Philadelphia.
Sauer, who would go on to win the NL’s MVP Award in 1952, hit a two-run homer off future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon in the bottom of the fourth to give the NL a 3-2 lead, which became the final score after five when the rains came.
After the game, NL president Warren Giles congratulates some of his winning players. Left to right: Giles, Curt Simmons, Bob Rush of the Cubs (the winning pitcher), Sauer and Jackie Robinson.
Of Sauer’s homer, Irving Vaughan wrote in the Tribune:
Hank Sauer, the pride of the Cubs and a sort of menace to pitchers in his own league, poked his heavy bat into American League circles today to become the deciding force in the 19th annual All-Star Game before 32,785, who turned in $108,762.40 at the Shibe Park box office.
Hank clouted a two-run homer to erase a slim American League lead and it was the climax to a game that started in the rain and finally, after a 56 minute wait, was abandoned just as the junior major athletes were getting ready to bat in the sixth.
Well. There’s a lot to unpack from that quote. First, the box office take equates to a little more than $3.30 per ticket. Even for 1952, that wasn’t much. The take is roughly equivalent to $1.1 million in 2021.
And it appears from that description that they were getting ready to resume the game when it was called. In 1952, teams still traveled by train and it’s likely trains for players to meet back up with their teams for the second half of the season would have been missed if they had continued to play. Now, of course, if there’s rain on All-Star day they’d just push the game back a day.
You can see in the photo that Giles got wet heading to the clubhouse to congratulate the players; his suit is all wet.
There is a slight chance of rain (20 percent) in Denver tonight.
1970: Jim Hickman drives in the winning run
Hickman was mostly a journeyman player, but 1970 was by far his best MLB season (.315/.419/.582, 32 home runs, eighth in MVP voting) and his only All-Star appearance.
He entered the game in the fifth inning playing left field replacing Rico Carty, and eventually moved to first base. The game went into extra innings, and in the bottom of the 12th, Pete Rose and Billy Grabarkewitz singled with two out.
Then this happened:
Hickman’s single drove in Rose with the walkoff run, and that’s Cubs manager Leo Durocher, coaching third base, waving Rose in.
The play, of course, is more memorable for Rose barreling over Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse, breaking Fosse’s collarbone. At the time Fosse was getting favorable comparisons to Johnny Bench, but was never quite the same player after that.
No player would ever risk injury like that in a modern All-Star Game.
1975: Bill Madlock is named co-MVP with Jon Matlack
Madlock won the first of two batting titles as a Cub in 1975, hitting .354. At the time it was the highest BA for any Cub since Phil Cavarretta hit .355 in 1945. Since Madlock was traded away after 1976, the highest BA for any player on the team is Derrek Lee’s .335 in 2005.
In this ASG, Madlock entered the game in the bottom of the sixth at third base. He singled off Goose Gossage, then a member of the White Sox, with the bases loaded in the ninth inning:
The hit broke a 3-3 tie and the NL went on to win 6-3 with Madlock and Matlack sharing MVP honors. Madlock is the only Cub to win an All-Star MVP award.
1979: Bruce Sutter strikes out Jim Rice
Rice was the defending American League MVP and Sutter was on his way to winning the National League Cy Young Award.
They met with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning with the NL leading 7-6:
That’s a real good example of how devastating Sutter’s split-finger pitch was at the time. No one else threw anything like it, 40-plus years ago, and as the announcers note, good hitters got completely fooled on pitches like that.
Sutter struck out three in two innings of work that evening in Seattle and was the winning pitcher. He’s still second on the Cubs franchise list with 133 saves, behind Lee Smith (180).
2016: Kris Bryant homers off Chris Sale
Another Cubs vs. White Sox matchup. Bryant was on his way to an MVP season and Sale to a 4.9 bWAR year that got him fifth place in AL Cy Young voting.
Sale had retired Ben Zobrist and Bryce Harper easily in the first inning and then Bryant launched Sale’s first offering to him out of Petco Park [VIDEO].
KB’s home run was not enough, as the AL won the game 4-2.
Will Bryant or Kimbrel put together a memorable performance tonight? Tune in to find out!