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When baseball fans flocked to Toronto to see a parade of all-stars

Twenty-eight years ago, Canada was hosting Major League Baseball's All-Star Game for a second time.

1991 All-Star Game was second time Canada hosted baseball's midsummer showcase

Toronto hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 1991. 2:10

Twenty-eight years ago, Canada was hosting Major League Baseball's All-Star Game for a second time.

In July of 1991, the game's best players were coming to Toronto to do battle at SkyDome — the state-of-the-art stadium that fans were still in awe of, two years after it had opened.

"I'm very impressed," said an American visitor, who talked to the CBC's Steve Paikin the day before the all-star showcase. 

"[When] we were down on the field yesterday I was surprised how soft the turf was — it's a beautiful stadium."

The Toronto event came nine years after Montreal hosted the first-ever MLB all-star game held outside the United States.

This time around, Toronto was making the most of its time in the major league spotlight.

'You gotta be a Blue Jay'

Former major leaguer Joe Garagiola is seen wearing a Blue Jays jersey, the day ahead of the Toronto-hosted All-Star Game in 1991. (The National/CBC Archives)

"This mid-season classic is bringing Toronto a lot of attention. It's making converts of familiar faces," Paikin told viewers on The National.

To prove the point, a clip of Joe Garagiola was shown with the broadcaster and former ballplayer wearing a Jays jersey.

"I'm a Blue Jay today, man!" he told CBC News. "In this beautiful ballpark on a beautiful day, you gotta be a Blue Jay!"

There was lots and lots of All-Star Game merchandise available for purchase in 1991. (The National/CBC Archives)

That wasn't strictly true, of course, as there was all sorts of official All-Star Game and general baseball merchandise to buy, including T-shirts, hats, jackets, trading cards, pennants, Christmas tree ornaments and more.

Some long-time ball fans found the price tags on some of those items to be a little much.

"A lot of the prices I've heard are very expensive ... $200 for a jacket," said Bill Thompson, who'd been following the game since 1927.

All-star Jays and future Jays alike

U.S. President George Bush (at front) is seen signing a bat for Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter (standing in background), ahead of the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (left) is seen holding the bat for the U.S. president, while Paul Molitor (top right corner) looks on from the background. (CBC News)

The All-Star Game of July 9, 1991, saw several Blue Jays take the field for the American League team, in front of 52,000 fans (including Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President George Bush).

The Jays' Roberto Alomar was the starting second baseman and Joe Carter subbed into the game from the bench. (Both all-stars had been acquired by the Jays in a blockbuster trade ahead of the regular season.)

And the Jays' Jimmy Key was credited as the winning pitcher when the American League squad beat their National League rivals by a score of 4-2.

There were also a number of future Jays on the field, including:

  • The AL's starting pitcher, Jack Morris, who would win a World Series with the Minnesota Twins that season. He would join the Jays the following year to do the same thing with Toronto in 1992.
  • Paul Molitor, then with the Milwaukee Brewers, would join the Jays in 1993 and be a part of Toronto's second World Series win.
  • Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox, who would come to Toronto and win back-to-back Cy Young awards in 1997 and 1998.
Jack Morris, seen here in a file photo from Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, would join the Blue Jays in 1992. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Corrections

  • This story initially misstated the team that Paul Molitor played for in 1991. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers at that time and the text has been updated to reflect that.
    Jul 10, 2019 9:14 AM ET