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Mudville: April 22, 2024 10:52 am PDT

He Was an All-Star? II

2001: One-Hit Wonders

July of 2001 was a wonderful time for Joe Mays, Phil Nevin, Jon Lieber, Chan Ho Park, Rich Aurilla, Ryan Klesko, Paul Quantrill, Jeff Nelson, Eric Milton, Tony Clark, Mike Stanton, Cliff Floyd and Blu Cantrell. For the first twelve names on the list, on July 10th the ball players lined up at Seattle’s Safeco Field for Major League Baseball’s 2001 All-Star Game. While on July 21st, the R&B artist Blu Cantrell’s song “Hit ‘Em Up Styles (Oops!)” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 List.

The common thread between the players and Cantrell is that they would all be “one-hit wonders” as Cantrell would not score another top hit in the United States – while none of the players would make their way onto a second All-Star roster during their career.

In my early forties with children to raise this writer admits to missing these All-Stars’ moment. So let’s take a look at what was missed.

On the National League roster, for future Angels manager Phil Nevin it was the recognition that was expected as the former #1 pick overall of the 1992 Draft by the Astros finally found his power stroke in San Diego by the early 2000’s. As a Padre the third baseman would slug 41 long balls, while sporting a .301 batting average in 2001, his best season in the bigs. Nevin would put together a few more good years for the Padres, before finding his way from the field to the dugout.

On the National League roster, for future Angels manager Phil Nevin it was the recognition that was expected as the former #1 pick overall of the 1992 Draft by the Astros finally found his power stroke in San Diego by the early 2000’s. As a Padre the third baseman would slug 41 long balls, while sporting a .301 batting average in 2001, his best season in the bigs. Nevin would put together a few more good years for the Padres, before finding his way from the field to the dugout.

Drawing starting duties at shortstop for the NL, Rich Aurilla was hitting a blistering .356 for the Giants at the break, before going 0-for-2 in the All-Star Game. He would finish the season batting .324, leading the NL with 206 hits while failing to land in the Top 10 in overall batting average in the bigs. Like Nevin, Padres first baseman Ryan Klesko rediscovered his power from Atlanta days to land his only All-Star honors. Klesko would slug 30 long balls during the season for San Diego, while connecting on a RBI sacrifice fly and a strikeout in the game.

After five seasons of hurling winning baseball for the Dodgers, Chan Ho Park finally received his All-Star recognition after an 8-5, 2.80 start to the season. He would be saddled with the loss as Cal Ripken, Jr., making his final Mid Summer Classic appearance, deposited Park’s first pitch into the bullpen to give the American League a lead they would not relinquish.

Handed the ball by NL manager Bobby Valentine in the sixth inning, Jon Leiber added fuel to the fire allowing two runs on back-to-back homers by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez. While the Cubs hurler enjoyed his best campaign in 2001, logging his lone 20-win season, the home runs had to be a bitter pill to swallow.

As for the American League one-and-done All-Stars, the star shone bright for Minnesota chucker Joe Mays. The right-hander tossed a clean inning by setting down future Hall of Famers Larry Walker, Mike Piazza and Chipper Jones in order. Mays would parlay his strong ’01 campaign of 17-13, 3.16 into a 4-year/$20 million contract with the Twins. Unfortunately, injuries would creep into his career as Mays – who is a distant cousin to the Yankees’ Carl Mays the hurler whose pitch killed Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in 1920 –  would fail to log a winning season moving forward, ultimately seeing his career come to a close by age 30.

Next up for the AL hurlers was Toronto’s Paul Quantrill, who provided strong relief work for the Blue Jays on a frequent basis during the early 2000’s as the righty was enjoying a string of leading the Junior Circuit in appearances four successive seasons of over 80 games in each of the 2001-2004 seasons. Quantrill would toss one-third of an inning, allowing a double to San Francisco second baseman Jeff Kent and a single to Houston’s Lance Berkman. The father of present day Cleveland pitcher Cal Quantrill would be charged with a run as Mike Stanton entered the game to face Klesko, whose sacrifice fly scored Kent to plate the lone National League tally. Stanton would finish his only All-Star Game by inducing future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero to fly out to left in a quick 7-pitch outing that would be his personal high-water mark. The southpaw would be a bullpen staple on many winning clubs tossing in 53 post-season outings, as he would collect playoff “bling” in his career netting six rings between his days with the Braves and Yankees.

Seattle’s duo of Jeff Nelson and Mike Cameron represented the host city in style. “Nellie” would work a scoreless inning, allowing one base runner as he walked Cardinal slugger Albert Pujols in the seventh inning. In a career that saw the right-hander make three stops in Seattle, the former 22nd round draft pick proved that even low picks can find themselves on the All-Star stage. Acquired by Seattle for the legendary Ken Griffey, Jr. the previous season, Mike Cameron was enjoying a 2001 campaign that ended with 25 long balls and 110 RBI for Lou Piniella’s 116-46 Mariners. It was an exciting year for Seattle and Cameron showed why with a hustle double in a 1-for-3 day at the plate. Both Nelson and Cameron would enjoy long careers that saw them both enjoy playoff seasons, but just this one All-Star Game.

Love this 2004 Topps Card of Mike Cameron as a Met.

Rounding out the American League one-timers, Detroit’s Tony Clark pinch-hit for Seattle’s own Edgar Martinez and fanned to end Leiber’s 6th inning misery. The future head of the MLB Players Association would later enjoy a strong 2005 season with a .301/ 30/ 87 campaign, only to find himself missing another All-Star moment. Sadly, Minnesota hurler Eric Milton was manager Joe Torre’s emergency arm that went unused in the American League’s 4-1 victory the last time that the All-Stars took to the field in Seattle.

The last remaining one-time All-Star to highlight was Florida’s Cliff Floyd. The Marlin went 0-for-2 in taking over Designated Hitter chores for Larry Walker and the National League. Floyd was enjoying his finest career season in ’01 with .317/ 31 /103 numbers as he was a bat worthy of a medal as an amateur as seen on his 1992 Topps cardboard.

"This 1992 cardboard of Floyd is what happens when Topps calls and your Mom answers the phone. May the 2023 Amateur Draft picks be warned"

 Scout Tales…. Cliff Floyd

As a scout, there is a certain feeling when you see that special player. It can be a tingling sensation down your neck or a feeling of serenity, as you watch the player in action. The feeling is amazing and just like the movies, as the player will move in slow motion as you become a part of the moment. It is a definite feeling and a high for the scout who hunts for the future major leaguer as he travels the endless miles.

A few years ago this writer lost a friend in former scout and front office executive Orrin Freeman who once related the story from his time in 1991 as a national cross-checker for the Montreal Expos. A lieutenant for scouting director Gary Hughes, Freeman was dispatched to Chicago to watch Cliff Floyd as a senior at Thornwood’s Markham High School.

Floyd was a first baseman with a big bat. He jumped onto the scouts’ radar, especially Expos area scout Stan Zielinski, during his junior season, when Floyd hit .449 with 13 home runs and 61 ribbies in just 25 games. His senior season was going very well also, as Floyd would ultimately hit .557 with nine long balls and 69 RBI in 38 contests.

“I wasn’t getting a comfortable guy that I liked for our first pick,” said Freeman. “But I ended up seeing Cliff and he hit a couple of doubles and a triple into the wind.

“He showed the power and the speed, he was a 6.60 runner in the 60 (yard dash),”added Freeman. “On his triple, I was so excited that I stood up.”

Following the game he called Expos scouting director Gary Hughes with the line, “He’s our guy.”

As the draft neared, it was becoming apparent that Floyd would be available at No. 14 for the Expos. During pre-draft meetings, Hughes and his crew smiled as they watched Floyd’s bat on the Major League Scouting Bureau video tapes. Their only concern was with his fielding.

Showing more than a casual interest as a young General Manager, Dave Dombrowski wanted to see Floyd on tape. The problem was that Floyd was a terrible fielder and the tape made him look more like a low pick at a Little League draft, than a first-rounder for a Major League club.

Thus, Hughes would show Dombrowski just the hitting clips of Floyd, until the GM pressed to see the youngster with a glove. Well, Dombrowski was less than impressed to see Floyd going down on a knee to field ground balls that were hitting three feet in front of him. Floyd’s arm was also poor, as Freeman described it as, “his throwing looked like a hook shot.”

Then-Expos Director of Player Development John Boles chimed in that the fielding was not a problem, it was just in his feet and that his people could fix it. Having convinced Dombrowski that Floyd was the guy; the Expos selected the Chicago native with their first-round pick. The franchise was rewarded with a big leaguer just two years later.

However after four seasons, the Expos brass had yet to see Floyd’s power emerge, as the lefty swinger belted just 12 home runs in his first 661 at bats. With the old Expos front office having moved in as the first Florida Marlins executives in 1992, Dombrowski would trade for Floyd during Spring Training in 1997. The outfielder would be a part of the Marlins ’97 World Championship club before maturing into an All-Star for the Fish in 2001.

Throughout the years Floyd provided highlights with his bat that has caused many onlookers to stand up and take notice… including a scout back in 1991.

With 26 players dotting the 2023 All-Star rosters for the first time, time will tell how many of them will be “one-hit wonders” like the twelve highlighted players from 2001 — and also Blu Cantrell.

C.J. Carlson is a freelance baseball writer residing in the Midwest and raised on Chicago Cubs baseball, while collecting cards along the way.

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