- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2000


ATLANTA Derek Jeter's charmed life got even more charming last night.

The New York Yankees shortstop with the teen-idol looks won Most Valuable Player honors after leading the American League to a 6-3 win in the 71st Major League All-Star game.

Playing before 51,323 fans at Turner Field, who have had to endure his clutch performances at the expense of the Atlanta Braves in the past two of the last four World Series. Jeter went 3-for-3 and drove in two runs, including the game-winner, to help the AL to its fourth straight win in the annual Midsummer Classic.

In the three days leading up the All-Star game, baseball officials had to endure endless talk about how this version would be marred by the nine All-Stars, including some of the game's biggest names like Mark McGwire and Pedro Martinez, were forced to withdraw because of injuries.

The game featured 26 first-time All-Stars, but Jeter proved there was still enough star power to make a compelling game while adding yet another reminder that the 26-year old has arrived as a superstar in his own right.

Jeter won the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award and in his first four seasons with the Yankees, he's been to the playoffs every year and been part of three World Series champions.

He'd played in two previous All-Star games but got his first start last night only because Seattle's Alex Rodriguez, the elected starter who is one of Jeter's best friends, missed the game with a concussion.

Jeter's rise to fame in the Big Apple has come with all the plums of celebrity. He's been named to People magazine's list of the world's 50 most beautiful people while having his flings with models and pop singers well documented in the New York tabloids.

Despite a story-book life, Jeter has endeared himself to New York's demanding tough-love fans by maintaining a modest appraisal of his celebrity while showing a constant respect for the history of the game and the Yankees and never failing to show his appreciation for playing in pinstripes.

He became the first Yankee to earn the MVP in an All-Star Game since the inception of the award in 1962.

Last night Jeter took pleasure in getting his hits off three different particularly challenging pitchers Arizona's Randy Johnson, the National League starter, Los Angeles' Kevin Brown and Al Leiter of the New York Mets.

"When you face guys like that, you try to swing and get out of there as soon as possible," said Jeter, who had struck out in his previous two career All-Star at bats. "I at least wanted to put the ball in play. But when you're facing three guys like that, you want to swing early in the count. If you fall behind, you're in trouble."

Anyone who blinked missed the All-Star debut of the Baltimore Orioles' Mike Bordick. He was pinch-hitting for starting pitcher David Wells in the top of the third when NBC came back from a commercial break. Before they cut to a shot of Bordick, he drove a shot to the warning track in center field, where he was robbed of extra bases by a running basket catch from Jim Edmonds of St. Louis.

The feel-good story of the night belonged to Andres Galarraga of the Atlanta Braves, who started at first base for the National League. Galarraga, 39, missed all of last season with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer but came back healthy this spring and was named an All-Star after hitting .294 with 20 homers in the first half of this season.

After drawing a long and loud ovation from the sell-out crowd during pre-game introductions, Galarraga went 1-for-2 before leaving in the fourth inning.

"There are probably no words to explain how happy, how excited, I am feeling today," Galarraga said. "Having cancer last year, coming back to play baseball, to come in and make this thing, it can't be something better today [than] to be with this team, to play this game today."

Brown, an ex-Oriole, put the National League in a hole in the third inning with a performance that resembled something fans have come to expect from this year's Orioles rather than the highest-paid pitcher in the game.

Brown loaded the bases by allowing a single and two walks then, with two outs, walked Oakland's Jason Giambi to score the game's first run.

Hometown hero Chipper Jones tied the game in the bottom of the third with a home run off James Baldwin of the Chicago White Sox. The Atlanta Braves third baseman is just the 13th player to hit an All-Star homer in his home park and the first to do so since Cleveland's Sandy Alomar hit a game-winning shot at Jacob's Field in 1997.

An inning later, Jeter hit the game's biggest blow off Al Leiter of the Mets in an all New York showdown. Jermaine Dye, who began his career here in Atlanta before being traded to Kansas City in 1997, lead off with a walk and Cleveland's Travis Fryman, who was starting at third base in place of injured Oriole Cal Ripken, singled.

A Barry Larkin error loaded the bases and with one out, Jeter plopped a single into shallow center that drove in two runs to make it 3-1.

"A cutter," Jeter said of the pitch he hit off Leiter. "He does it every time I face him. I try to lay off. I didn't hit it well, I just hit it in the right place."

The Braves' Jones boys tried to spark an NL rally in the fifth, with Andruw Jones singling and scoring on Chipper Jones' second hit of the night to make it 3-2. But with Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield of the Dodgers on base representing the tying and go-ahead runs, Oakland's Jason Isringhausen got Edgardo Alfonzo of the Mets to pop out to end the threat.

The NL scored a meaningless unearned run in the bottom of the ninth off of Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera. Boston's Derek Lowe, Detroit's Todd Jones, Oakland's Tim Hudson and each pitched a perfect inning of relief before the ninth.

The AL gave Rivera some insurance runs when Matt Lawton of Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox Magglio Ordonez each had an RBI and Lawton scored on an error by Jose Vidro of Montreal.

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