By Sam McPherson
With the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami on Tuesday night, the entire baseball nation will be focused on the Midsummer Classic and its roster of amazing players. However, here’s what you need to know about last week’s action before you watch your favorite stars in this week’s celebrated event.
Aaron Judge breaks one of Joe DiMaggio’s records
Joltin’ Joe began his professional baseball career in San Francisco before moving on to legendary fame with the New York Yankees. Last week, Bronx Bomber rookie Aaron Judge tied and then broke DiMaggio’s franchise rookie record for home runs (29) in a single season. The record was set in 1936.
Judge is also on pace to break the MLB rookie HR record (49), set by Oakland’s Mark McGwire in 1987. It will be an interesting second half of the season for Judge, as he attempts to chase down Big Mac’s rookie power standard.
Terry Francona has heart procedure, to miss ASG
One of the rewards for winning the league pennant is the honor of managing in the All-Star Game the following season and shaping the Midsummer Classic roster. Cleveland’s Terry Francona was set to manage the American League team on Tuesday, but his health got in the way.
This would have been Francona’s third appearance as an ASG manager, after he previously won AL pennants and World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, respectively. In his place, Indians bench coach Brad Mills will manage the American League side in Miami. According to MLB.com, Francona is expected to make a full recovery, and that’s the best news any baseball fan could have hope for in this matter.
Ichiro sets all-time hit record for non-U.S. players
Hall of Famer Rod Carew was born in Panama, and during his MLB career, he laced 3,053 hits for the Minnesota Twins and the (then) California Angels. On Thursday, Japanese-born star Ichiro Suzuki surpassed Carew’s hit record for players not born in the United States when he earned his 3,054th career hit in the major leagues.
Ichiro is 43 years old, and crazily enough, he played nine seasons in Japan before coming to the U.S. in 2001 to start his MLB career. In Japan, he earned 1,278 hits, giving him a combined total of 4,332 hits in 26 years of professional baseball worldwide. The last of Suzuki’s ten-straight All-Star Game appearances came in 2010, but he’s still out there living the dream with the Miami Marlins, the host for Tuesday night’s Midsummer Classic.
Chase Utley gets 1,000th RBI
A six-time All-Star player in his prime, Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Chase Utley reached a big milestone on Friday night at Dodger Stadium against the Kansas City Royals. With a double in the eighth inning, Utley registered his 1,000th career RBI, putting him in select company with just ten other hitters currently active in MLB.
In his career, primarily as a second baseman, Utley earned four Silver Slugger awards, while finishing in the Top 10 MVP vote three times in a four-year span (2006-09). He also was a member of the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, but Utley surely will remember this night as one of his favorites as he approaches his 39th birthday this winter.
Franklin Barreto gets his first walk-off hit for the Oakland Athletics on July 4
He made history with his teammates a few weeks ago, but A’s shortstop Franklin Barreto got the spotlight all to himself on the Fourth of July when he hit a game-winning, walk-off home run against the Chicago White Sox at the Oakland Coliseum. Just 21 years old, Barreto also received the Oakland traditional “pie in the face” during his postgame television interview.
Unfortunately, Barreto was sent back down to the minors after the July 5th game as the A’s got their starting shortstop (Marcus Semien) back from injury. However, something tells us we have not seen the last of Barreto in the Coliseum. Keep an eye on this talented kid.