"The first two strikes were balls in the dirt and I was swinging before the guy let go because I was so excited," Alomar said. "Then I stepped out and said, 'Man, you have to calm down. You've been doing this for a long time.'"
There were two outs in the bottom of the seventh in the 1997 All-Star Game at Jacobs Field. Alomar had replaced Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate at the start of the previous inning and he approached the batter's box with the score knotted at 1-1 and Bernie Williams aboard.
San Francisco's Shawn Estes delivered a 2-2 pitch and Alomar pounced.
"He just happened to throw me a changeup and I saw that ball in slow motion," Alomar said.
The two-run homer, which sailed into the left-field bleacher seats, lifted the AL to victory. Alomar was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
That was 20 years ago: July 8, 1997.
Alomar has returned to the All-Star Game this week as a member of the Indians' coaching staff. The Tribe also sent five players to Miami for the festivities.
Alomar made the All-Star team again in 1998, and he played for another decade, but perhaps no moment stands out to the longtime catcher more than his decisive blast in the league's annual showcase. (His postseason homer off Mariano Rivera three months later ranks right up there, though.)
"It was unbelievable, the roar from the fans," Alomar said. "I felt like everyone from Cleveland was here. It was unbelievable, a proud moment."
Said former teammate Carlos Baerga: "Sandy was born for that moment."
It certainly seemed like it that season. Alomar entered the All-Star break with a .375 batting average and a 1.016 OPS. He cooled off a bit in the second half, but he still posted a .324 average, with a career high 21 home runs, 83 RBI and 37 doubles.
"I happened to have a pretty good year that year," Alomar said, in the understatement of 2017. "Just to be selected [to the team] by the manager in your own ballpark and have a chance to give the American League team the lead, that's just one in a million."
Cleveland will host the All-Star Game for the first time since Alomar's hometown heroics in 2019.
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