The rain was 0-for-2 Saturday in its attempts to cancel the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic, but in the bottom of the sixth inning, a mix of thunder and showers resulted in a walkoff.
The sixth-annual exhibition game at Doubleday Field ended in a 4-4 tie after 5 1/2 innings, but by then, the 6,063 fans had seen two rosters full of recently-retired players, a dramatic home-run derby, good pitching, a trade and four home runs.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez hit a two-run homer about 400 feet to center field to score Brady Anderson in the top of the fifth inning to tie it at 4 for the Knucksies, also known as the American League All-Stars. Anderson reached base when his infield dribbler resulted in a throwing error by Wizards first baseman Luis Gonzales, then moved to second on a passed ball.
Pitchers shut down batters for the most part.
Pedro Martinez started for the Knucksies and threw one scoreless inning. Martinez faced four batters, allowing a single to left field to Wizards shortstop Jack Wilson.
“It’s beautiful to be here,” Martinez said. “A great opportunity to be part of this and interact with many players that you faced and played with.”
Kirk Rueter did even better for the Wizards, who were the National League All-Stars. The left-hander threw three shutout innings, allowing one hit and two walks.
Steve Avery relieved Rueter in the fourth inning and gave up two runs in two innings. In the fourth inning, crowd favorite Hideki Matsui got the Knucksies going with a home run off Avery. It traveled into the back row of the stands down the right-field line.
In the fifth, Mike Sweeney’s bloop single to center field scored Aaron Rowand and made it 2-0. Rowand doubled to the left-field wall to set up Sweeney’s RBI single.
The Wizards scored all of their runs in the bottom of the fifth. Reggie Sanders led off with a double to left and scored on a home run to center field by Gonzales. Marlon Anderson later drew a two-out walk before Wilson gave the Wizards a 4-2 lead with a home run over the Doubleday Field sign in left field.
Both homers came off of Dan Wheeler, the fourth Knucksies pitcher. Eddie Guardado took over for Martinez and was relieved by Carl Pavano before Wheeler came in.
Todd Jones relieved Avery in the sixth. Jones had started the day on the Knucksies roster since he was representing the Detroit Tigers. However, in the middle of the second inning, Hall of Fame vice president Brad Horn announced that a trade was being discussed and interviewed Wizards manager Ozzie Smith.
“I need some arms over here,” said Smith, who requested Jones from Knucksies manager Phil Niekro. “Niekro, you’ve got arms. I need some functional arms.”
Niekro then made his own request.
“There might have to be some cash involved,” he said, but Smith refused.
They settled on a player to be named later, who turned out to be Kerry Robinson in the fourth inning.
The trade turned out to be a bad one for the Wizards, though, as Jones gave up the tying home run to Rodriguez.
Rain fell all morning and a sprinkle started at game time, but it wasn’t until the downpour at about 3:45 p.m. that the game was stopped.
The 2013 Classic, the first to be held in May, was rained out.
The Wizards beat the Knucksies, 5-4, in 2012. In 2011, the Knucksies beat the Wizards, 8-6.
Team Feller beat Team Killebrew, 9-0, in 2010. In the first Classic in 2009, Team Feller beat Team Wagner, 5-4. Those games featured Hall of Famers and other “old-timers.” Most of those who played in Saturday’s Classic had retired within the past 10 years.
Knucksies 4, Wizards 4
Saturday at Doubleday Field
Knucksies 000 112 - 4 5 0
Wizards 000 04x - 4 5 2
Pedro Martinez, Eddie Guardado (2), Carl Pavano (3), Dan Wheeler (5) and Ivan Rodriguez. Kirk Rueter, Steve Avery (4), Todd Jones (6) and Edgardo Alfonzo. 2B: Aaron Rowand (K), Reggie Sanders (W). HR: Hideki Matsui (K), Ivan Rodguez (K), Luis Gonzales (W), Jack Wilson (W).