By Mitchell Goldenberg
With the 2021 All-Star Weekend in the rearview mirror, I wanted to remember the last time the festivities took place in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the 80th All-Star Game in MLB History, and only the second game to be hosted in St. Louis.
The St. Louis Cardinals had Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols starting the game and First Base and Catcher respectively, with Closer Ryan Franklin in the National League Bullpen. This would be Yadier Molina’s first All-Star Game of his Hall of Fame Career, and it was really special to see two of the pillars for the St. Louis Cardinals representing the National League on the grandest stage.
The ceremonial first pitch would be thrown out by President Barack Obama, who was handed the ball by Stan Musial. Say what you want about Cardinal Fans claiming that we are “The Best Fans in Baseball,” but it was hard to argue that fact on the night of the 2009 All-Star Game. The ovation for their Redbirds was deafening, and it is a lot of fun going back and watching Yadi get honored for the very first time, as we have grown used to it by 2021.
I love the All-Star Game, but revisiting the Home Run Derby all the way back in the peak of power that was 2009 was special. Sluggers such as Prince Fielder, Adrian González, and Nelson Cruz had a lot of hype around their performances, but the two names that really stand out to someone from St. Louis are Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. These two men were arguably the best hitters in their primes, but with the Derby being held in St. Louis meant that Howard and Pujols would be getting loud reactions.
Albert Pujols would get cheered for being one of the greatest Cardinals of All-Time by St. Louis, but it was special to see Ryan Howard attend the festivities in St. Louis because he grew up less than 30 minutes from Busch Stadium. Kids who grew up around St. Louis grew up idolizing Ryan Howard, even spreading stories about him hitting home runs onto rooftops in Ballwin, Missouri. Howard was a local legend to St. Louis, and it is really cool to see Howard get the respect he deserves that night.
All in all, I feel like this is the best All-Star Weekend that I can remember. I was not alive to see Griffey in the derby, so Prince Fielder’s performances were the best that I have ever seen. Am I biased because I was in attendance at this derby? Probably, but it is a memory that I will cherish forever and look forward to the next time the ‘Mid-Summer Classic’ rolls into St. Louis.