All-Star Insider: Obscure All-Star Game MVPs

  • Updated: May 11, 2014 - 12:17 AM

Melky Cabrera

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

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Some of the greatest players in baseball history — Mays, Musial, Williams, Puckett — have taken home All-Star MVP trophies. But occasionally a lesser-known star shines brighter than the superstars. Here are six of the most obscure players ever to be honored with the Ted Williams Trophy (originally named the Arch Ward Trophy):

Leon Wagner, OF, AL, 1962: “Daddy Wags” bounced around to five different teams in his 12-year career, but he was the most popular player in the Angels’ first two years in existence. In the final game of baseball’s four-year experiment with two All-Star Games, Wagner batted seventh and collected three hits in Wrigley Field, including a two-run homer.

Johnny Callison, OF, NL, 1964: A four-time All-Star, Callison capped the NL’s ninth-inning rally with a three-run homer off Dick Radatz into deep right field at Shea Stadium. Callison, second in MVP voting that season despite the Phillies’ final-week collapse, joined Ted Williams and Stan Musial as the only batters to end an All-Star Game with a walk-off homer.

Jon Matlack, LHP, NL, 1975: The three-time All-Star was a .500 pitcher during his 13-year career, but when his Mets teammate Tom Seaver gave up the NL’s three-run lead in Milwaukee, Matlack came to the rescue. He shut down the AL lineup for two innings, allowed a hit in each, picked off Claudell Washington and shared the MVP with Pirate Bill Madlock, who drove in the go-ahead runs.

LaMarr Hoyt, RHP, NL, 1985: A shoulder injury limited his career to seven seasons, and his 3.66 ERA in 1983 is the highest ever by a Cy Young winner. But in a game devoid of drama under the Teflon Metrodome roof, the Padres righthander’s good three-inning start — he gave up two hits and an unearned run — was deemed the highlight.

Jeff Conine, OF, NL, 1995: All three runs in the NL’s 3-2 win in Arlington, Texas, scored on solo home runs, but Conine’s broke the 2-2 tie and was judged most valuable. The journeyman outfielder, the lone Marlin on the team, was pinch-hitting in the eighth inning for Ron Gant and connected off Oakland’s Steve Ontiveros.

Melky Cabrera, OF, NL, 2012: He was enjoying an MVP-caliber year for the Giants, batting .353 with 44 RBI at the break, and Cabrera added two more hits in Kauffman Stadium, including a two-run homer off Matt Harrison. A month after accepting the All-Star trophy, Cabrera was suspended for failing a drug test for performance-enhancing drugs.

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