Bo Jackson made the 60th All-Star Game his own showcase Tuesday night.
Jackson crashed a massive home run that began the scoring in the American League's 5-3 victory, stunning National League starter Rick Reuschel. He also drove in another run, stole a base and singled in his four at-bats.Jackson, a left fielder, was chosen the game's most valuable player, the first Kansas City Royal to receive the award.
"That never entered my mind prior to the game," Jackson said. "After I hit the first ball, I came back into the dugout and my teammates said, `You've got this thing wrapped up."'
Jackson grinned and added, "Then when Wade (Boggs) hit it out, they said, `Wade's got it wrapped up."'
Jackson, installed as the AL's leadoff batter, took Reuschel's first pitch for a ball and sent the next pitch high over the center-field fence. The drive, which hit a tarpaulin that provided a dark hitting background, was estimated at 448 feet.
Boggs, who has just 63 homers in his 7 1/2-year Boston Red Sox career, followed with a 398-foot blast over the fence in center. After just two batters, the AL had matched the two scored off starter Dave Stewart in the top of the first.
"He was exciting, really," NL manager Tommy Lasorda said of Jackson. "That first ball, when he hit it, it sounded like he hit a golf ball. He's awesome."
Jackson said he doesn't have time to play golf, but he acknowledged the similarity.
"I swung like I was swinging a golf club because the pitch was down over the plate," Jackson said. "It wasn't a strike. He kept it down low, but I saw it well. He didn't come out of the glare with it."
The disappointed Reuschel said, "I made a good pitch; he just went down and got it."
The twilight starting time, which was supposed to be tough on hitters, proved no detriment. All but one of the game's eight runs were scored in the first three innings.
Jackson's speed enabled him to drive in the tie-breaking run in the second inning.
Ruben Sierra began the inning with a single off John Smoltz, the 22-year-old righthander who had replaced Reuschel, 40. Terry Steinbach's one-out single got him to third, and Jackson returned to the plate.
Jackson took a ball, then missed on two swings before hitting a bouncer to shortstop Ozzie Smith, who forced Steinbach at second. But Jackson burned down the line and beat Ryne Sandberg's throw, avoiding an inning-ending double play as Sierra scored.
Jackson then stole second base, prompting a wild heave into center field by catcher Benito Santiago, and he went to third on the error.
Did he think about stealing home?
"No," Jackson said with a smile.
The Jackson-Boggs homers were just the fourth time back-to-back shots had been hit in All-Star Game history. And when Jackson swiped the base, he became only the second All-Star to have a homer and a steal in the same game. The first: Willie Mays in 1960 at Yankee Stadium.
Jackson said he did not like to be compared with the great players of the past.
"They did their thing then, I do mine now," he said. "When people say you're the next Willie Mays or the next Babe Ruth, it starts going to your head and it can really screw you up. That can get you out of the game quicker than anything else."
When it was over, Jackson was asked whether it would be hard for him to go back to playing football for the Los Angeles Raiders, considering his stunning success in baseball this year.
"Not really," he said. "I've been fortunate that I haven't had a serious injury and I've been able to do both things now for the past 11 years. I don't mean to sound cocky, but there are a lot of people in this room who thought I was crazy when I said I would be doing both baseball and football on the professional level. When the time comes that I have to choose between them, I will."