A dozen years ago, the best players in the world were on display at Comerica Park.
The Detroit Tigers hosted the 2005 All-Star Game and the entire weekend was packed with legends — past, present and future.
It started with Justin Verlander starting the All-Star Futures Game for the U.S. team. The future Tiger star would win the American League Rookie of the Year award the following season. He pitched one inning and allowed one hit.
There were plenty of other future major leaguers in the game, including Joel Zumaya, Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Pat Maholm and Jim Johnson — and that was just the pitchers.
Comerica Park saw plenty of future major leaguers like Chris Young, Delmon Young, Josh Barfield, Lastings Milledge, Andy LaRoche, Yuniesky Betencort, Hanley Ramirez, Shin Soo Choo, Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Russell Martin.
The World team won 4-0 with Volquez getting the win. Justin Huber won the Larry Doby Award as MVP after a two-run double.
Past legends Lou Whitaker, Guillermo Hernandez, Andre Dawson, Dave Winfield, Bo Jackson, Jim Abbott, Ozzie Smith and Mark Fidrych and more played in the Legends Celebrity Softball Game with celebrities Jennie Finch, Amanda Beard, Jon Lovitz, Kenny Mayne, Chris Webber and Billy Bob Thornton.
Moving to Monday, Comerica Park saw one of the best Home Run Derby’s in history as David Ortiz and Bobby Abreu squared off to launch dozens of balls into the right-field bleachers — some that hit media members and destroyed computers. (Of course this reporter brought his glove).
It was a weekend of top-level entertainment, balancing history with the future. But there was still an All-Star Game to be played.
The American League scored a 7-5 win on July 12, 2005, in front of a sellout crowd of 41,617. Mark Buehrle of the White Sox earned the win, while Michigan native and former Tigers farmhand John Smoltz took the loss. No surprise that Mariano Rivera got the save.
Miguel Tejada and Mark Teixeira each homered for the AL. Andruw Jones hit one for the National League.
But the most exciting part was seeing the amount of great players — many of whom could be heading to the Hall of Fame — and a couple who are already in Cooperstown. Smoltz, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez are Hall of Famers already. Ichiro, Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Mariano Rivera, Roger Clemens, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield and Carlos Beltran could be headed that way (some depending on how voters view PEDs). Michael Young, Jones, Jeff Kent, Jimmy Rollins, Jim Edmonds, Johnny Damon, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt and Teixeira are at least in the conversation, too. That’s a ton of legendary talent on one field.
The American League got its win in its home ballpark and it was the biggest stage yet for Comerica Park — until the next season when the world would watch the Fall Classic on the same field.