Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 7/4/12
When Dave Bristol managed the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1960s, he said over and over and over again, If there is a way to win a ballgame, Tony Perez will find it.Perez proved it to the baseball world in the 1967 All-Star game in Anaheim, Calif., one of the classics.The game went 15 innings and was all about pitching. In all, there were 12 pitchers used and all 12 recorded at least one strikeout.Richie Allen gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the second with a home run off Dean Chance, but Brooks Robinson tied it with a home run off Ferguson Jenkins in the sixth.And thats where it stood for 14 innings. The Nationals hadnt scored in 12 innings when Perez came to bat in the top 15th against Catfish Hunter. Ironically, Perez had replaced Richie Allen late in the game and he did the same thing Allen did, a dramatic home run to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead, which they protected in the bottom of the 15th.For his deed, Perez was named the games Most Valuable Player, the first in a solid legacy of Cincinnati Reds to win the All-Star MVP.The MVP award began in 1962 and between 62 and 1980 five Reds won the MVP, all five members of the Big Red Machine Perez, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Ken Griffey Sr., Dave Concepcion. Since 1980, no member of the Reds has won the MVP.Im proud of my whole career because I had a great career, Perez said a few years later. I played with a lot of great players on great teams, especially in Cincinnati. We won champions and World Series and Im proud of that. And Im proud, too, of that All-Star game.The 1972 game was the first All-Star game played in Atlanta and the Nationals leadoff man was second baseman Joe Morgan, playing his first season with the Reds.Morgan arrived in Cincinnati before the 72 season in a bombastic trade engineered by Reds presidentGM Bob Howsam, a deal with the Houston Astros that not only brought Morgan to Cincinnati, but also pitcher Jack Billingham, center fielder Cesar Geronimo and utility outfielder Ed Armbrister, the final pieces of The Big Red Machine.The Nationals trailed, 3-2, in the ninth, but tied in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. In the 10th, with Dave McNally on the mound, the Nationals received a walk and a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second. It was Joe Morgan time. With his chicken-flap back arm pumping before the pitch, McNally delivered and Morgan singled, driving home the winning run. It was Morgans only hit, he was 1 for 4, but that hit earned him the MVP as the dominant Nationals won for the ninth time in the last 10 games.In May, 1971, Howsam made another steal of a deal when he traded minor-leaguers Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert for a strong-and-silent outfielder named George Foster, who had muscles on top of muscles and a waist with the circumference of a dime.Manager Sparky Anderson couldnt find a regular spot for him, though, until an idea popped into his head in May, 1975. He approached left fielder Pete Rose and said, Why dont you move to first base and well put Foster in left field.And a star was born. Foster hit 52 home runs in 1977, an unheard of number during that period.The 1976 All-Star was in Philadelphia, in celebration of the nations 200th birthday, but Nationals manager Sparky Anderson created fireworks before the game when he named his own first baseman Tony Perez over Philadelphia star Willie Montanez as an extra player.I feel you owe the players on your club, said Anderson, explaining his decision. thse are the guys who go you there.But it wasnt Perez providing the shine for the Nationals during a 7-1 rubout. Facing the same pitch against Perez homered to win the 1967 game, Catfish Hunter, Foster crushed a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Nationals a 4-0 lead and later added an RBI for three runs driven in and the MVP award.Like father, like son? The Griffeys, Ken Sr. and Ken Jr., are the only father-son tandem to win All-Star MVPs and although both played for the Reds, Ken Griffey Jr. won his in 1992 when he was employed by the Seattle Mariners.His father, in his penultimate season with the Reds, won it in 1980 in a game won by the Nationals, 4-2, in Dodger Stadium, the ninth straight win by the Nationals.As the game entered the fifth inning, no Nationals runner had reached base a perfect game. Griffey ended that, though, with a leadoff home run in the fifth off Tommy John, a great pitcher at the time who became more famous as the first to under a ligament transplant in his elbow that became known as Tommy John surgery.That left the Nationals down, 2-1, but they scored two in the sixth and one in the seventh. Griffed added another hit to go 2 for 3 and was named MVP.Dave Concepcion never much reaped any notice for his offensive prowess with The Big Red Machine and was more recognized as the best defensive shortstop of his time. And in 1982, he was on the last legs of his career when the All-Star game was played in Montreal, the first time the game was played beyond U.S. borders.The Americans took a 1-0 lead in the first and pitcher Dennis Eckersley had two outs and nobody on in the second when he walked Dale Murphy.During the season, Concepcion had one home run in 328 at-bats when he stepped in and reversed an Eckersley pitch over the Olympic Stadium wall for a 2-1 Nationals lead.It was Concepcions only hit, but it was the big hit of the game in a 4-1 Nationals win, good enough for Concepcion to win the MVP. Concepcion was an eight-time All-Star, but 1982 was his last, even though he played for the Reds through 1988.Amazingly, Pete Rose was named to the All-Star team 17 times and Bench was named 14 times, neither ever won the All-Star MVP.
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