My Top 20 Blue Rocks Moments: #8 The 1998 All-Star Game
My number eight top Wilmington Blue Rocks moment is…
The 1998 All-Star Game
Current big leaguer and former Frederick Key Jerry Hairston Jr at the 1998 Carolina League All-Star Game.
Normally, the All-Star Game is played between the Carolina League and the California League. However in 1998, the Blue Rocks hosted the Carolina League ASG, pitting the Northern Division against the Southern Division (I think something logistical changed the format). The great part about the game was that fans had seen all of the players selected play at Frawley Stadium at least once prior to the event.
Prior to the game, the All-Stars were at the now-defunct Kahunaville (which was across the street from the stadium). It was a unique setting (think a smaller version of Dave and Buster’s), as players were scattered throughout the “game area” and pool tables for an autograph session. There were not a ton of people there (mainly because it was a Tuesday afternoon), which meant there was plenty of time to get every players’ autograph, take pictures, and even have conversations.
After that, the players were herded back to the ballpark for batting practice, which was followed by the homerun derby. The Carolina League had a few homerun hitters that season that mainly played in the Southern Division, like Joe Crede and Mike Hessman, but hitting long balls out of Frawley Stadium proved tough.
Prior to the game, Robin Roberts became the first inductee into the Blue Rocks Wall of Fame (he played back in 1948 with the original club). He also became the first Blue Rock to have his number retired (#36).
The North beat the South, 5-2, as Blue Rocks second baseman Emiliano Escandon delivered an 8th inning bases clearing double to break the 2-2 tie.