DAYTON — Eleven years ago, Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera played at Fifth Third Field, and few knew who they were.
That’s the fascinating aspect of the Midwest League All-Star Game. Future major-league stars are still prospects, and there’s no telling who will go on to greatness.
On June 18, 2013, Dragons fans will get to see the stars of tomorrow once more as the All-Star Game is played here for the second time. The team announced the news Friday before the first game of the second half of the season.
“The game has become a big showcase for players, for fans, for the town,” said Eric Deutsch, the Dragons’ executive vice president. “A lot of people come in from our league as well as from around baseball — the minor league office, the major league office. I think it’s a good thing for Dayton. It’ll bring people in. We’ll have a couple of nights of activities showcasing downtown.”
The last time Dayton hosted the All-Star Game, in 2001, the East team, managed by Dayton’s Donnie Scott, won 7-3.
Three Dragons players started that game: second baseman Wandel Campana, first baseman Randy Ruiz and designated hitter Samone Peters. A crowd of 8,901 watched Michigan’s T.J. Soto win the game with a grand slam in the seventh inning. Off the field, fans were treated to a laser light show at Riverscape and fireworks after the game.
There are 16 teams in the Midwest League, and Deutsch said the game is awarded to teams on a rotating basis. Teams can opt not to host, and sometimes the rotation is interrupted if a team is celebrating a milestone year or the opening of a ballpark.
The Dragons, by far, lead the league in attendance with an average of 8,481 — more than 3,000 better than the second-best total of Fort Wayne — but Deutsch said they don’t think they should get to host any more often than anyone else.
“If you have it too often,” he said, “it loses its special nature.”
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.