Ozzie recognizes unique All-Star experience
Next to World Series, manager sees no greater time for big league player
MIAMI -- The way Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen sees it, next to appearing in the World Series, there is no greater experience for a player than the All-Star Game.
An infielder in his 16-year MLB career, Guillen had the privilege of being in three Midsummer Classics -- 1988, '90 and '91.
Then with the White Sox, the former shortstop was a reserve on three American League victories during a time the All-Star Game did not determine home-field advantage in the World Series.
"I think there is nothing better in baseball, besides the World Series, to be in the All-Star Game," Guillen said. "Being around those guys, you know somebody there is going to be in the Hall of Fame. You take your picture with them. It's a great experience. It's fun."
Now, the stakes are higher, with the Midsummer Classic impacting the World Series. Still, there was plenty of incentive in the game more than 20 years ago.
As an All-Star, Guillen was managed by a couple of the most intense skippers of his era. In 1988, Tom Kelly of the Twins managed the club. And in back-to-back years in 1990 and '91, Tony La Russa, then with the A's, was at the helm.
"It meant a lot to us, too," Guillen said. "Even though you weren't playing for anything, that was very important for pride to win those games."
The thrill of his first All-Star Game especially stands out. A reserve in 1988, Guillen was in awe of being around legendary players. Five of the nine AL starters are now in the Hall of Fame: Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson.
On the bench were Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett and George Brett. And the team also featured Don Mattingly and Alan Trammell.
The 1988 game was played at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, with the AL winning, 2-1.
"Your first All-Star Game is amazing," Guillen said. "My first All-Star Game was in Cincinnati. All of a sudden, you dress up with Dave Winfield, Mattingly, Rickey Henderson, George Brett, Trammell. That's a great experience."
The AL claimed a 2-0 win at Wrigley Field in 1990, and at Toronto in '91, the Junior Circuit took a 4-2 victory.
In the seventh inning of the '91 game, Guillen dropped a sacrifice bunt, setting up the AL's fourth run.
"We won three out of three," Guillen said with a laugh. "Pretty good, Ozzie was on the team. We had a good ballclub. We did a good job."