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The stars are shining.

When Contemporary sports events are a turn-off (and what's there to like about the boring baseball industry these days?), solace always can be found in the recesses of ones memory and the history books. July being the month that the National Pastime stages its annual Mid-Summer Classic, what better time to assemble a personal all-time All-Star team? The only prerequisite for the members of this mighty lineup is that your rapidly aging columnist had to have seen them play in person.

Willie Mays, center field. Arguably the greatest player of all time, the Say Hey Kid could do it all: hit for average and power, throw, run, and field. His signature basket catch and trailing cap remain indelible images of baseball lore. Had he not been forced to switch home parks - from the cozy Polo Grounds to wind-swept Candlestick Park - Mays, not Henry Aaron, most likely would be remembered as the man atop the home run chart. His most memorable moment: the still impossible-to-believe catch on Cleveland's Vic Wertz that helped the Giants sweep the Indians in the 1954 World Series.

Pete Rose, second base. Charlie Hustle was a better outfielder and first and third baseman than he was a second sacker, but how do you keep major league baseball's all-time hits leader out of the lineup? Most memorable moment: Rose barreling around third and flattening American League catcher Ray Fosse to win the 1970 All-Star Game.

Roberto Clemente, right field. Always go with the team's best all-around hitter in the third slot. Clementes splendid skills - offensively and defensively - as well as his passion for the game make him the most deserving member of this lineup. Most memorable moment: the temptation is to cite all his superb plays and clutch hits in the 1971 World Series, but, from a purely personal perspective, it has to be those countless times Clemente flashed into the right field corner and, whirling and throwing in one motion, gunned down yet another foolish baserunner who dared to test his arm.

Willie McCovey, first base. The great Yankee teams of the early 1960s had the M&M Boys (Mantle and Maris), but so did the Giants. Mays and McCovey arguably were the most powerful one-two punch in baseball history. Most memorable moment: the linedrive last out of the 1962 World Series is the obvious choice.

Mike Schmidt, third base. It's hard not to say Brooks Robinson here. However, Schmidt was the most prolific home run hitter of his time, and his fielding also was unsurpassed. He even helped the Phillies to their lone world's championship. And the big slugger did all this in front of the toughest fans in America - Philadelphia (Ph)anatics. Most memorable moment: the final out of the 1980 World Series, for the simple reason that it meant that this future Hall of Famer would not leave the game without a much-deserved world championship ring.

Johnny Bench, catcher. Of all the legendary talent showcased by the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s, none seems to symbolize the Big Red Machine more than Bench. Undoubtedly the greatest catcher who ever lived, Bench set standards behind the plate that may never be matched. Most memorable moment: the way Bench almost singlehandedly strafed the Yankee pitching staff in the 1976 World Series. The Reds' sweep earned them a place among the greatest teams of all time.

Carl Yastrzemski, left field. When running down the roster of all-time greats who never won a World Series, Yaz's name always tops the list. Adding to the agony are his final-out swings in the 1975 Fall Classic and 1978 one-game playoff against the Yankees. Like Rose, Yastrzemski worked and willed his way to baseball immortality. Most memorable moment: the entire 1967 campaign, as Yaz remains the last player to win the Triple Crown.

Cap Ripken, shortstop. A throwback to an era when players really understood the game's intricacies, Ripken brings exceptional power and leadership qualities to perhaps the most important spot on the diamond. Most memorable moment: there are none, and that's this man's hallmark. His remarkable consecutive gaines playing streak is into its second decade (and they said Lou Gehrig's record never could be broken).

Tom Seaver, right-handed starting pitcher. Tom Terrific was just that. Consistent brilliance is the most elusive of all athletic attributes; Seaver was the master. Most memorable moment: his near-perfect game against the Cubs in 1969. The Mets came of age that day, and eventually went on to win the World Series. Anyone who was around then never will forget the Miracle Mets.

Steve Cariton, left-handed starter. "Lefty" might be the most common nickname in baseball, yet that moniker brings to mind just one person: Silent Steve Carlton, the southpaw who made his living throwing a wicked slider and, to his everlasting credit, refusing to speak with sportswriters. Most memorable moment: the consummate cool cat, Carlton calmly sipped champagne in the trainer's room after the Phils won it all in 1980. Not prone to hysteria, Carlton would rather enjoy a private celebration than share his space with the media overflow in the locker room.

Earl Weaver, manager. The Earl of Baltimore forever will be remembered as the foremost practitioner of the "Big Bang Theory of Baseball." He shunned the sacrifice bunt at every opportunity, instead biding his time for the three-run homer. One of only a handful of managers to win three straight American League pennants, the combative Weaver was a master tactician and one of the most explosive umpire baiters in the National Pastimes annals. Most memorable moment: it has to be winning the 1970 World Series if for no other reason than Weaver's team reached the post-season six times during his reign, but 1970 was the only time his Orioles went all the way.
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Title Annotation:all-time All-Star baseball team
Author:Barrett, Wayne M.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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