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May 29, 2014

Classic notes: Thome's gift, Matsui's press corp turn heads


Matsui, who was also popular with the crowd, gave his fans plenty to cheer about with two home runs in the Home Run Contest and another off Steve Avery in the Classic.

New blood

This was the first Classic where the Hall of Famers were not playing, but six members did appear as coaches and managers. Team Knucksie was led by 1997 inductee Phil Niekro and coached by 1992 inductee Rollie Fingers and 2011 inductee Roberto Alomar. Team Wizards was led by 2002 inductee Ozzie Smith and coached by 2003 inductee Eddie Murray and 2010 inductee Andre Dawson.

The players this year were mostly recent retirees, including Mark Kotsay, who retired last year, and a half dozen others who retired in 2012. Some like Matsui and Jack Wilson -- a shortstop whose career lasted 12 years, mostly with Pittsburgh -- and pitcher Kirk Rueter looked like they could still play.

Steve Garvey, who retired in 1987, was the oldest of the players, but he did not play.

Of the players who were in the game, pitcher Steve Avery had been out of the game the longest. Avery retired in 2003 after a brief comeback attempt. Previous to that, his last year in the majors had been 1999.

Seventh Inning Stretch of the umbrella

Isaac Brock, lead singer of Modest Mouse, may have tempted the fate of the baseball gods with his version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Brock, with his band standing at home plate to support him, sang an off-beat version of the song. He was later overheard telling someone that he had not grown up a baseball fan and had to look up the words to the song.

Not long after Brock sang -- with the game scheduled for seven innings, the stretch came in the middle of the fifth inning -- thunder sounded and the rains came.

Brock and Modest Mouse were in the middle of two sold-out shows at Brewery Ommegang. They had better luck with the weather at their Saturday night show. The rain that began at the Classic stopped around 7 p.m., not long before the concert.

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