One of our office-mates found this in the archives last week and we wanted to bring it out. On June 16, 2002, the Asbury Park Press published a special pull-out section revolving around the 2002 South Atlantic League All-Star Game which would be in Lakewood two days later.
Here are a couple of highlights from the section…
- The first game was in 1960 and they moved to the North/South matchups in 1962. That lasted only one year, with the North/South matchups re-appearing in 1976. They played against the Carolina League and against AA teams among other formats, which included playing against teams in the league (the 1966 Spartanburg club played the rest of the league’s All-Stars). In 1993 and 1994, they played in a NL affiliate vs AL affiliate matchup.
- Then league-president John Moss noted, which I was unaware of, that the Phillies have been associated with the league (SAL and its predecessor, the Western Carolinas League), since 1963.
- In 2002, Larry Bowa was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame. He played in the Western Carolinas League in 1966. That team, at one point, won a league-record 25 games in a row, and went 91-35. They won titles in 1966, 1967 and 1968.
- Lee Mazzilli was then a Yankees coach and recalled his game MVP award in 1974. He was talking to Dan Cichalski of the APP about his appearance when Derek Jeter chimed in and noted that 1974 was the year Jeter was born. Jeter would play in the game as a Greensboro Bat in 1993.
- Then-BlueClaws manager Jeff Manto played 14 years in the minors and made two All-Star games. “I just couldn’t hit in April. No matter what,” he said. “But as the season went on, as the games got more important, I made up for it.” Manto’s #30 is retired in Buffalo.
- Of the 90 players to start the MLB All-Star Games between 1997 and 2001, 84 were Minor League All-Stars.
- Then-BlueClaws General Manager Geoff Brown found out that Lakewood had been selected to host the 2002 SAL All-Star Game at the 2000 game in Charleston, SC. At the time, the BlueClaws hadn’t even played a game yet, and the ballpark was still under construction.
- The three BlueClaws representatives in 2002 were Ryan Howard, Ben Margalski, and Danny Gonzalez. Though the BlueClaws were 3rd in the league in ERA at selection time, none of their pitchers, including Gavin Floyd, made the team.
- There were a couple of other sluggers besides Howard that played in that game: Jose Bautista (then with Hickory), David Wright (then with Capital City), and Angel Pagan (also Capital City).
I’m glad we found this in the office, and can’t wait to see who BlueClaws fans will get to see in the 2013 All-Star Game at FirstEnergy Park.