CLEVELAND — As All-Star week gets set to play ball in downtown, baseball fans got a chance to look back and meet some of the big names who played in the mid-summer classic.
Guys like former Indian, Andre Thorton who played in two all-star games in the 1980’s.
“I remember San Francisco the most because it was freezing out there in July, but other than that they were all fun,” Thorton said.
Today, Thorton lives in Chagrin Falls and owns ASW Logistics in Akron. The baseball he grew up playing back in the day is much different from the one he sees now on TV.
“They strike out a lot more,” Thorton said with a laugh. “The game certainly has changed, guys are bigger, stronger, faster, you have a lot more home run hitters today at all different positions.”
What would an All-Star game be without a Doc? Dwight Gooden is back in Cleveland for the first time in 20 years. He played with the Indians in the late 90’s and was a four-time all-star during his playing career. He is glad the All-Star game will be played in Cleveland for a record sixth-time.
“I’m not surprised, they definitely deserve it,” Gooden said. “I know the two years I was here, every game was sold out, fans did a great job, they support baseball, they have a lot of knowledge of baseball, it’s definitely going to be fun.”
Gooden came to Cleveland a year after the Tribe last hosted the 1997 All-Star Game, famously known as the Sandy Alomar home run game.
“It was great, he hit a home run then and I remember in ’97 when we came here I started the game in the playoffs in Game 5 when he hit the home run off Mariano to put them out of it,” Gooden said.
Bert Campaneris never played for the Indians in his 20 year career, but he certainly knows a thing or two about the All-Star games. He played in six of them, including four in a row in the mid 70’s.
“I remember back in the late 60’s and early 70’s the Indians were very nice to the other teams, they let them win a lot,” said baseball fanatic Fritz Harrell of Mentor. “Bert was with Kansas City and with Oakland and they had championship teams back then and all the kids in Cleveland dreamed that someday we would have a team just like Oakland and Kansas City.”
So as we look forward to Tuesday’s All-Star game, let’s remember the ones played before us.
It won’t be long before our present becomes our past.