On Tuesday, the 88th annual major league baseball All-Star game will be played at Marlins Park in Miami. It will feature most of the great lights of big league ball, with the notable exception of Mike Trout, the Angels’ superstar center fielder who is still recovering from a thumb injury.
The occasion of this mid-summer tradition brought up the issue of who are the greatest baseball all-stars from our region, the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area. This would include athletes who were born in our towns, or played ball in our towns or who otherwise are identified with us.
Here’s a short list. Whom do you think we are leaving off?
- Bert Blyleven: He is – as far as I know – the only local to have been chosen for the Hall of Fame. Although born in the Netherlands, he’s spent most of his life in the U.S. He attended Santiago High School in Garden Grove and went on to pitch for the Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers Cleveland Indians and California Angels. His lifetime win-loss record was 287-250, with an ERA of 3.31 and 3,701 strikeouts.
- Jeff Kent: This five-time All-Star played for six teams and was named the National League MVP in 2000 when with the San Francisco Giants. Local fans will probably remember him best for the four years he spent with the Dodgers. Kent, who was graduated from Edison High in Huntington Beach, retired with a lifetime batting average of .290. He had 2,461 hits, smacked 377 home runs and drove in 1,518 runs. Kent is the most prodigious home run hitting second baseman in MLB history.
- Ian Kennedy: This right-handed pitcher is still active, playing this season with the Kansas City Royals. He pitched a shutout against the Angels a few weeks ago. A graduate of La Quinta High School in Westminster, Kennedy played at USC and was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2007. He’s played for the Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and Royals. So far he has a lifetime win-loss record of 88-95 with an ERA of 3.96 and 1,386 strikeouts. Perhaps his best season was in 2011, when he won 21 games for the D-backs, tied with the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw for most victories in the National League and MLB.
- Bobby Crosby: His statistics don’t look that impressive, but Crosby was a star for the Oakland Athletics early in his career. He began high school at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove before transferring to La Quinta. After playing ball at CSU Long Beach, he was drafted by the A’s in 2003 and won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2004. He batted just .239, but had 22 home runs and 64 RBIs. That was the peak of his career. He later signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and D-backs. He retired after the 2010 season.
- Lenny Dykstra: The scandals that followed the career of Dykstra overshadowed a career, which won him the nickname of “Nails” for his hard-nosed style of play. A graduate of Garden Grove High School, Dykstra was drafted by the New York Mets in 1981. He had his best season in 1986 when, batting leadoff, he helped lead the Mets into the World Series. His walkoff home run in Game Three of the National League Championship Series was key to the Mets beating the Houston Astros and sending them into the Fall Classic against the Boston Red Sox. His leadoff homer in Game Three is credited with helping to spark the Mets to recover from a 2-0 hole in the series. Traded to the Phillies, he starred again, but his career was interrupted by injuries caused by a drunk driving accident in one instance and being hit on the hand by a pitch in another. He bounced back in 1993 and led the Phillies to the World Series, which they lost in six games. Dykstra would later be implicated in accusations of steroid use, and had several run-ins with the law. He was convicted of grand theft auto in 2012 and sentenced to three years in prison. His lifetime batting average was .285 with 81 home runs and 404 RBIs in 11 seasons.
Monday Morning Coach is written by Pete Zarustica.