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Blue Jays All-Star Memories: Dave Stieb, Damaso Garcia and Afredo Griffin?

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Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

1984 was the first time we had more than one player named to the All-Star team. We had three: Dave Stieb, Damaso Garcia, and Alfredo Griffin.

They named Dave Stieb to the team for the fourth time. He has the team-high mark for most years on the All-Star team at 7. In 1984, for the second straight year, he was named starting pitcher. Dave was having another terrific season. He was 9-3 with a 2.42 ERA at the break, and opposing batters were hitting .210 against him. He finished the year 16-8, with a 2.83 for a team that finished 2nd in the AL East, at 89-73, but 15 games back of the eventual World Series-winning Detroit Tigers.

Dave didn’t have the great start he had in the 1983 game. After ground-outs to Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg, Steve Garvey hit a single and went to second on a Reggie Jackson error. Then Garvey scored on Dale Murphy’s single to left field, running over catcher Lance Parrish at the plate. Lance got an error to show how different scoring was back then, dropping the ball in the collision. So Stieb wasn’t given an earned run. Stieb then struck out Mike Schmidt. Nothing like striking out one of the best third basemen in baseball history.

In the second inning, Stieb started by striking out Darryl Strawberry and then gave up a solo homer to Expo catcher Gary Carter (game MVP). He got Ozzie Smith to ground out and Chili Davis to line out to end his two-inning stint. As the NL went on to win 3-1, Stieb got the loss. Stieb faced four future Hall of Famers.

It was Damaso Garcia’s first time on the All-Star team. He would make the team again next year. Garcia was the type of middle infielder popular in that era, but you don’t see much anymore: a decent batting average, no power, no walks, and enough speed to steal at almost a break-even rate. At the All-Star break, Damaso was hitting .303/.329/.394, with 27 steals and 48 runs scored. So, quite a good first half. But, if he were playing today, you’d want him to take some walks, get on base a little more and maybe give you a bit more power. He finished the season with a .284/.310/.374 with 46 steals and 79 runs scored. I don’t think those numbers would get you in the All-Star game now.

Damaso got into the game, replacing starter Lou Whitaker, in the bottom of the 6th inning. He got an at-bat in the 8th, popping out foul, and he made one play in the field.

But the reason we are talking about this All-Star game and what makes it one of my favorite baseball stories is Alfredo Griffin’s part in it all. Griffin has to go down as one of the worst All-Star picks of all time. Alfredo was a defense-first shortstop in the John McDonald mold, but, in 1984, he hit far worse than what you would expect even from Johnny Mac. At the break, Alfredo was hitting .241/.250/.317. He played just about every day, had just 3 walks, 10 extra-base hits, 6 steals (caught 3 times), and 31 runs scored at the break. He didn’t turn it up after the break either, finishing with a .241/.248/.298 line, 4 homers, 30 RBI. It’s worth noting that he finished the season with a 0.9% walk rate. That’s less than 1%. And we got on Kevin Pillar’s case.

So how did Alfredo make the team? The custom, at the time, was for the MLB to give the All-Star player plane tickets and hotel for two to the game. Generally, the player will take his wife or girlfriend (as long as no one tells his wife) (kidding, kidding). Damaso decided to invite his friend and teammate, Griffin, to go with him to San Francisco. The day before the game, Alan Trammell hurt his arm and was unable to play. Having an open roster spot and no real-time to fly a player in, AL manager Joe Altobelli decided to give the spot to Griffin ‘partly before he’s a fine player, but mostly because he was here.’ He made the team because he fit the uniform.

Griffin got into the game in the bottom of the 6th, replacing starter Cal Ripken, but he didn’t get to bat. Don Mattingly, pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the 9th. He did make an assist on defense. That was his one All-Star game.

I love that story. No matter how badly the voters or managers screw up now, you’ll never see anyone having as bad a year as Griffin make an All-Star game again.

Use the thread to share your favorite All-Star memories.