We're at the end of this list, highlighting the best moments in Astros All-Star history. Before we talk about the top moment on the list, I'll digress a bit. See, I'm a sucker for underdog stories. Monday, The Natural was on FX or some other cable channel and I, of course, got sucked in. Even though I've seen the movie about a thousand times now, I still was late going into the office because I had to see the ending, when he hits the home run into the lights.
That's just the kind of sports fan I am. I like the underappreciated stories, the players who break through on a big stage. It's fun to talk about and it's fun to watch. That's why I decided to pick Cesar Cedeno's big game in the 1976 All-Star Game as the top spot on this list.
Cedeno fits a lot of those categories. He might have been the most talented player in team history, but his career was derailed by some late injuries and the fact that he played in an extreme pitcher's park. Cedeno just didn't have the national profile when he was playing that he should have.
He still made four All-Star Games in his career. Only Craig Biggio was named to the All-Star team more consecutive years than Cedeno (Bidge was named five times from 94-98). It was in his last All-Star appearance that Cedeno also picked up a team first.
Cedeno was the first Astro to get an extra-base hit in the All-Star Game, and, to this day, is one of just two players who have accomplished the feat. Of course, Cedeno would not be outdone by simply hitting a double or even a triple. He hit a two-run home run to put the game out of reach.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the National League leading 4-1, Ken Griffey Sr. hit a single to center field, plating Dave Cash. Cedeno came up after him and hit a home run to deep left field off Frank Tanana. That drove in Griffey and gave the NL a 7-1 lead.
It was Cedeno's third All-Star Game hit for Houston, his second run scored and his third RBI. According to FanGraphs, '76 also marked Cedeno's last time as a high WAR player (for the most part). From '72-76, Cedeno totaled 32.8 WAR, falling to a low of 4.4 in '75 and a high of 8.8 in '72. He only topped 5.0 WAR once more, in 1980, so this moment was a big one for him. His name was somewhat in circulation, but this was a blow struck on one of baseball's biggest stages by the Astros' best player.
Craig Biggio also hit a home run for Houston in the 1995 game, but Cedeno was first. I may argue that BIggio was the better player over his entire career and that Jeff Bagwell may have been better at his peak, but as I said, Cedeno may have been the most talented. Any chance I can get to remind you of that, I'll do it.