07/13/2004 8:02 PM ET
All-Star Game has world appeal
International flavor strong at baseball's showcase event
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Olympic Games are not the only International event this summer.
|Sammy Sosa is just one of many international stars in Houston. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
When the players for the American League and National League teams take the field Tuesday for the 2004 All-Star Game, they represent the present and future of America's favorite pastime.
"The All-Star Game really represents the culmination of everything great baseball has to offer," said Brad Horn, spokesperson for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. "It helps us look back on what has happened, and also look forward to what is yet to come. The All-Star Game provides the opportunity to celebrate what is truly the American pastime, but when you look at the rosters, you see the world influence that makes it a world game."
More than 3,000 credentials were issued to media outlets, including to more than a dozen countries like Mexico, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Korea and Puerto Rico.
Moreover, the rosters for the American League and National League teams read like a world atlas. The first three hitters in the American League lineup -- Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki (Japan), Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) and Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic) -- were all born outside of the U.S.
"The game has really taken an International flavor overall, and that makes it stronger," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "I'm really proud of the Latinos who are on this team."
The trend continues in the home dugout. St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria (Colombia) and teammate Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic) are the first two batters for the National League, before Barry Bonds of San Francisco is scheduled to hit.
Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa and Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano, both from the Dominican Republic, are also in the starting lineups for their respective leagues.
"I think it shows how much this game has grown over the years," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "In New York, we are like the melting pot. We have players from Japan, Panama, Dominican [Republic] and Venezuela. Here, baseball does a great job of promoting the game and making sure it is global, and it feels great to be a part of it."
The All-Star Game was created in 1933 in conjunction with the World's Fair in Chicago as an exhibition game designed to bring more attention to baseball for visitors from across the globe.
The design has worked and succeeded in large part because of the players -- mostly visitors from across the globe.
"It's an honor to be part of such a global event," Royals first baseman Ken Harvey said. "There are a lot of different nations that are going to be watching, and that makes for a great atmosphere. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Tuesday's game at Minute Maid Park marks the third All-Star Game for Houston, with the others coming at the Astrodome in 1968 and 1986. But because of the increased international attention, the Astros organization knows this year's version is unlike any other in the city.
"This is a great opportunity to show off our city and our ballpark with the best players in the world," Astros spokesperson Jimmy Stanton said. "For all sorts of reasons, it's a great experience for us and baseball. It's been a lot of fun for everybody."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.