One of the greatest Angels moments in All-Star Game history happened on this date in 1983, when Fred Lynn hit the only grand slam in the history of the midsummer classic.
Lynn was in his third season with the Angels, and hitting .259/.373/.500 with 14 home runs at the break. This was his ninth All-Star appearance, and sixth time as a starter in center field. Lynn was one of two Angels in the American League starting lineup, along with fellow former MVP Rod Carew at first base. Reggie Jackson, Doug DeCinces, and Bob Boone were also All-Stars that year for the Angels.
This was the 50th anniversary of the All-Star Game, and was held at Comiskey Park in Chicago, also home to the first midsummer classic in 1983.
The National League won 11 straight All-Star Games heading into this one, and got on the board first, with two errors in the top of the first inning plating a run. The American League came back with single runs in the first and second innings, with Carew (single) and Lynn (walk) helping with the first tally.
It was in the third inning when things got interesting. Jim Rice homered off new NL pitcher Atlee Hammaker, then with two outs Rod Carew singled home Dave Winfield to widen the AL lead to 5-1. An intentional walk to Robin Yount gave NL manager Whitey Herzog what he wanted, a lefty-on-lefty matchup of Hammaker vs. Lynn.
Yount was on first, Carew on second, and Indians second baseman Manny Trillo on third with Lynn at the plate.
Then this happened:
“I take it personally when someone is walked ahead of me,” Lynn told reporters after the game (1). “The strategy was right, but I don’t have to like it.”
Lynn’s homer broke the game open, giving the American League an insurmountable 9-1 lead. They won 13-3.
For Hammaker, Lynn’s grand slam ended his night, after nine batters faced. Hammaker set dubious All-Star records with six hits allowed in one inning and seven runs allowed in a game.
“That’s not something I’m going to hang on my wall,” Hammaker said. (2)
Hammaker had a 1.70 ERA in 15 starts heading into the All-Star Game, allowing only two home runs all season. But he allowed two home runs while recording only two outs in the midsummer classic, then allowed seven home runs in his next five regular season starts after the break.
Seven years later, when Lynn was with the Padres, he faced Hammaker in a regular season game for the first time. He didn’t homer off him this time, though Lynn did single to left field once in his two at-bats against the southpaw.
The grand slam was Lynn’s fourth homer in nine All-Star Games, hitting .300/.364/.900 with 10 RBI in the midsummer classic. Lynn had two regular season grand slams on his resume at this point, but would go on to hit five more in his career, finishing with 306 career home runs.
He earned All-Star Game MVP honors in this 1983, the second Angel to do so, after Leon Wagner in 1962.
“This was one of the top moments of my career,” Lynn said (3). “I feel very fortunate the fans voted me in the ballgame.”
Two Angels have won All-Star Game MVP awards since Lynn, and both are also outfielders — Garret Anderson (2003) and Mike Trout (2014, 2015).
Lynn stands alone though in midsummer classic history. In 90 All-Star Games to date, his remains the only grand slam.
- “MVP Lynn ‘Grand Slams’ Door on N.L. Win Streak,” by Phil Hersh. Chicago Sun-Times, July 7, 1983.
- “It was a bad day, but Hammaker isn’t brooding about it,” by Will Grimsley. Associated Press, July 7, 1983.
- “Lynn earns MVP award,” by Susan Kucza. United Press International, July 7, 1983.