Matsui homers as HOF Classic ends in tie
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) – Ivan Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to knot the score in the top of the sixth inning, and the Knucksies and Wizards played to a 4-4 tie in the rain-shortened Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday.
The sixth annual classic at Doubleday Field also featured home runs by former major leaguers Hideki Matsui, Luis Gonzalez and Jack Wilson.
On a 65-degree afternoon in front of 6,063 fans, six Hall of Famers and 30 former major leaguers laced up their spikes and dusted off their uniforms for another bow on the diamond.
“It’s beautiful to be here,” said three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, who pitched a scoreless inning as one of the game’s starting pitchers. “A great opportunity to be part of this and interact with many players that you faced and played with. It’s just great to have fun. and see how many gray hairs these guys are developing.”
The teams were divided into American League and National League squads, with Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro managing the Knucksies of the AL and Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith managing the Wizards of the NL.
The game was scoreless until Matsui brought the crowd to life with a towering home run over the 312-foot sign in right field. Matsui, representing the New York Yankees, received a huge ovation.
In the top of the fifth, Aaron Rowand doubled, took third on a flyout and scored on a bloop single by Mike Sweeney, giving The Knucksies a 2-0 lead.
The Wizards rallied in the bottom of the fifth when Reggie Sanders doubled and scored on a home run by Gonzalez. Wilson added a two-run homer later in the inning to give the Wizards a 4-2 lead.
After Rodriguez tied it, a rain shower forced the game to be called before the bottom of the sixth started.
Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers, and Eddie Murray also were in attendance and part of the annual parade down Main Street.
Alex Gonzalez, who hit 137 home runs for six teams in his 13-year big league career, won the home run derby before the game, besting Jim Thome and Mike Sweeney.
Thome and son Landon presented the ball Thome hit for his 600th career home run to the Hall of Fame.