Cal Ripken Jr. made sure his final All-Star Game appearance in 2001 would be a memorable one. In the third inning, after Alex Rodriguez moved over to third base in the first inning to allow Ripken to play his original shortstop position, Ripken homered against Chan Ho Park, much to the delight of the fans at Safeco Field. Ripken earned the game's MVP honors in the American League's 4-1 win over the National League in the 2001 Midsummer Classic.
"It's just been a great deal of fun my whole career. The All-Star Games, I've been able to go to a whole lot of them, but this is by far the most special," Ripken said at the time. Every day from now to Spring Training, MLB.com/Live will air a classic game on Baseball's Best. The 2001 All-Star Game can be seen on Monday at 10 a.m. ET. The 2001 season was Ripken's farewell tour after 21 seasons, which included 19 All-Star selections. But he saved the best for last when he stepped to the plate against Park to lead off the third. Ripken crushed Park's first pitch into the seats to become the oldest player to homer in an All-Star Game at 40 years old. "I swung and made good contact and the ball went out of the ballpark, and I felt like I was flying around the bases," Ripken said. Players from both sides of the dugouts applauded Ripken, who earned his nickname as the "Iron Man" for playing in 2,632 consecutive games. It was a special moment for Ripken, who had to be coaxed by teammates to give the 47,364 fans at Safeco Field a curtain call. Ripken earned All-Star Game MVP honors for the second time in his career, setting a record. He also played shortstop for the first time since 1997, when Rodriguez playfully pushed Ripken to play shortstop in the first. "That started with A-Rod," AL manager Joe Torre said at the time. "He came up with this idea and said, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'I think it's dynamite.'" The AL added three runs after Ripken's homer to seal the victory. The runs scored on an RBI single by Ivan Rodriguez in the fifth and back-to-back homers by Derek Jeter and Magglio Ordonez in the sixth. The NL scored just one run on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Klesko, plating Jeff Kent from third base in the sixth. Representing the host Mariners, who had eight players on the AL roster, Freddy Garcia earned the win and Kazuhiro Sasaki notched the save.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.