Players reflect on Cleveland's past All-Star Game glory

'It was surreal,' Alomar says of his game-winning HR in '97

Players reflect on Cleveland's past All-Star Game glory

CLEVELAND -- Sandy Alomar Jr. remembers how the stadium shook. He remembers feeling like he was floating around the bases as the baseball disappeared into the left-field bleacher seats. In the last All-Star Game in Cleveland, Alomar gave Indians fans a hometown hero and a historic home run that lifted the American League to victory.

"It was surreal," Alomar said. "It was a surreal moment for me."

On Friday, Major League Baseball announced that the 90th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard would be held at Progressive Field in 2019, bringing the Midsummer Classic back to Cleveland for the first time since 1997. As Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement at the Tribe's home stadium, Alomar sat off to the right, the bleachers where his home run landed looming over his right shoulder.

Cleveland hosting ASG in 2019

These days, Alomar is the Indians' first-base coach, and this will mark the former All-Star catcher's eighth season as a coach for Cleveland. When Alomar takes his place in the first-base coach's box, he will serve as a reminder of the team's incredible run in the '90s. Alomar's home run in the '97 All-Star Game -- a shot that earned him MVP honors -- stands out as one of the great homers in team history.

Former Indians slugger Jim Thome, who made his first All-Star Game in '97, remembers how thrilling that moment was for Alomar and the city.

"Very special," Thome said. "To watch a teammate, a guy you roomed with, do what he did, was just so special. Really, when you think back, being retired now and thinking back at those moments, those are the things that really stand out. When you're playing, you're in the grind. You're trying to get better. You're trying to go through the rollercoaster ride. You're hitting slumps, the peaks.

"Now, reflecting back and coming here, it's special to see those moments happen and go, 'Wow, I was a part of that. I got to share that.'"

Francona on 2019 All-Star Game

With the All-Star Game caught in a 1-1 tie that year, the National League handed the ball to Giants lefty Shawn Estes in the seventh inning at then-Jacobs Field. With two outs and Bernie Williams on base, Alomar drove a low breaking ball over the left-field wall for a two-run, game-deciding shot. In the home dugout, Thome high-fived Tribe manager Mike Hargrove, and Alomar's brother, Roberto, looked on and smiled.

"The opportunity to play in an All-Star Game is a wonderful experience," Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "The opportunity to play in an All-Star Game in your own ballpark is even better. That's the year that you focus and do the best you can. You want to be a part of your own ballpark's All-Star Game. ... To have a chance to share that with Jimmy was awesome."

Alomar said Friday that having the All-Star Game return to Cleveland is another great moment for the city, which watched the Indians reach the World Series last fall.

"This is about the kids," Alomar said. "This is about bringing the attention of kids to baseball and for the city of Cleveland and for the growth. It is a very important moment for the city."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.