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Timeout honors two of game's greats

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 11, 2001


SEATTLE -- Since they could not stop time, they stopped the game instead.

Faced with the impending retirement of two of the greatest players of this generation, Major League Baseball abruptly halted Tuesday night's All-Star Game to honor Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken.

The ceremony, which took place along the third-base line before the start of the sixth inning, included a presentation of the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award to both players.

The award, created in 1998, first was given to Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire for their pursuit of the season home run record.

"We've had a lot of good guys leaving the game lately," said Kirby Puckett, the 2001 Hall of Fame inductee who was the American League's honorary captain. "They say as one window closes, another opens up. But I don't think there is any way you can replace a Cal Ripken or a Tony Gwynn."

Both remained with hometown franchises their entire careers -- Ripken with the Orioles and Gwynn with the Padres -- and both were as fondly remembered for their respect for the game as for their skills.

Commissioner Bud Selig presented Gwynn and Ripken with $100,000 checks for their charity organizations Monday and said both players helped rescue the game after the strike of 1994.

"For somebody like me, who cares a great deal about the history and tradition of the game, it is hard to articulate how much these two gentlemen have meant to this game through some very, very trying times," Selig said.

SEATTLE'S NIGHT: Not only did Seattle have the game in its new ballpark and have a major league-high eight players on the field, the Mariners also got the win and a save. Freddy Garcia was the winning pitcher, and Kazuhiro Sasaki got the save. It is the first time teammates have gotten a win and a save in the All-Star Game since Pittsburgh's Bob Friend and Vern Law in 1960.

QUICK IMPRESSION: Fans seeing Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki for the first time got a good indication of his abilities in his first at-bat.

Ichiro turned on a Randy Johnson fastball and hit a shot toward rightfield. Rockies first baseman Todd Helton made a diving stop and bounced up to throw to Johnson covering. But Ichiro, who may be the fastest runner to first in the majors, beat Johnson for a single.

"It didn't help falling toward third base, and that's pretty much what I do," Johnson said. "Helton made a great play, and I was just late getting over there. (Ichiro) got to the base so fast."

LONG TIME COMING: Derek Jeter's home run was the first by a Yankee in the All-Star Game since Yogi Berra in 1959. Jeter is 4-for-6 with three RBI in four All-Star appearances.

MAKING THE BEST OF IT: Rays designated hitter Greg Vaughn said he spent Tuesday morning getting treatment for his sore hamstring and said he expects to be in the lineup Thursday in Montreal.

And though Vaughn was sorry to have missed the All-Star Game because of the injury, he said there was a silver lining.

He was replaced by Mariners centerfielder Mike Cameron, who spent a summer living with Vaughn when they were teammates in Cincinnati.

"I'm happy for him," Vaughn said. "If I couldn't play, he is the guy that I would have picked to take over."

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: The players were not the only ones hustling around Safeco Field. Outside the stadium, business establishments were selling parking spots for $40-$50.

MOVE OVER: The National League's starting pitcher was from Arizona, as expected, but it was a left-hander instead of a right-hander.

Curt Schilling was scheduled to start but was unable to go when he arrived at the ballpark. Schilling threw 101 pitches on Sunday in a loss to Oakland.

Manager Bobby Valentine had anticipated the possibility and had Johnson, Schilling's teammate, ready to fill in. Johnson threw two shutout innings.

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