The year was 1984 and the National League All-Stars were looking to get back to their winning ways at the Midsummer Classic. The prior year, the American Leaguers pasted their counterparts by a score of 13-3 ending the Senior Circuit’s 11-game winning streak. 1984’s edition would be held at Candlestick Park, almost assuring that the game would be dominated by pitchers. It also represented a coming-out party for rookie Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets, a 19-year old pitcher whose performance in the first half of the season had the Big Apple in the palm of his hands. With his selection, Gooden became the youngest player ever to appear in an All-Star Game.
The National League did get their revenge, winning the game by a score of 3-1 with future Met Gary Carter, then with the Montreal Expos, taking home Most Valuable Player honors. However, all anyone could talk about was Gooden, the teenage phenomenon who dominated the best of the American League. In the fifth inning, Gooden struck out the side, disposing of the Detroit Tigers’ Lance Parrish and Chet Lemon as well as Alvin Davis of the Seattle Mariners, who like Gooden, would win Rookie of the Year in 1984. In the following frame, Gooden retired Lou Whitaker on a ground out before Eddie Murray lined a double. He then induced Cal Ripken, Jr. to ground out and Dave Winfield to fly out before calling it a night. Prior to Gooden’s dominating the fifth inning, Fernando Valenzuela was equally as tough. In the fourth, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty struck out Winfield, Reggie Jackson and George Brett, giving the NL six consecutive whiffs, one of the most historical pitching performances in All-Star history. It brought back memories of Carl Hubbell‘s feat in 1934 of striking out five Hall of Famers in a row: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. Fifty years later, it was Gooden and Valenzuela who were the talk of the Summer Classic and for Gooden, it was the start of one of the most magical periods in New York baseball history.
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