Blue Jays history: All-Star game spat- Cito vs. Mussina

23 Feb 1997: Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gastin looks on during spring training in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport
23 Feb 1997: Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gastin looks on during spring training in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport /

Back in 1993, the Blue Jays’ Cito Gaston was the manager of the AL All-Star team, and he ended up having an infamous disagreement with Mike Mussina.

For those that don’t remember it, the 1993 All-Star game was special for a number of reasons.

After having won the World Series in 1992, Cito Gaston was given the role as the manager of the American League All-Star team, which is an honour that goes to the skippers from the Fall Classic the year before. That was also the year that the Blue Jays had seven (!) players on the AL All-Star squad, including Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, John Olerud, and more.

Since we don’t have much in the way of live baseball to watch right now, I’ve been enjoying looking back at some of the classic games in Blue Jays history, and also re-living some of the stories from that era. However, I came across one anecdote earlier in the week that I had completely forgotten about.

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In that All-Star game in 1993, we later learned that Gaston had a conversation with at least a couple of pitchers before the game, and one of them was the Blue Jays’ Pat Hentgen. Apparently Gaston’s message was something to the effect of letting them know he didn’t have a plan in place to use them, and Hentgen indicated that it was because of his youth, and the likelihood that he would have another opportunity to play in the All-Star game before his career was over.

Just as Cito had warned him, Hentgen never did pitch in that game, but he wasn’t the only hurler that remained in the bullpen. The other was Mike Mussina, who was just 24 years old at the time, and was in just his second full season at the MLB level. However, the complicating factor in Mussina’s case was that the All-Star game was played at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and Mussina pitched for the Orioles at the time.

Orioles fans were understandably upset that their star pitcher wasn’t getting an All-Star appearance, and they let Cito know at the ballpark that night, and for many years after. However, it might not have turned into quite as big of an incident had it not been for Mussina’s actions that evening. That’s because the young right-hander decided to start warming up in the bullpen during the 9th inning, despite never having been told to do so. The fans saw him in the ‘pen, were further reminded that he hadn’t been in the game, and it turned them on Gaston even worse.

Afterward Gaston responded in the media, saying that Mussina’s actions showed he had “little class”, as the skipper was understandably upset that he was shown up by a young player, and one from a rival team no less.

To be fair, I do think Cito should have found a way to get Mussina in the game since it was being played in Baltimore. That said, the Orioles also had a prime Cal Ripken Jr. on the team as well to wave their flag, so it’s not as if there was no representation from the Orioles in the lineup. I can also understand where Gaston was coming from, as it sounds like his motivation was to make sure the veterans had their opportunity, since they had less chance of earning another.

Next. What would a World Series team look like?. dark

In the end, it’s just another great little anecdote in Blue Jays’ history.