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THE 1986 ALL-STAR GAME : Notebook : Gwynn's Contribution? At Least Padre Connected With the Ball

July 16, 1986|TOM FRIEND and ROSS NEWHAN | Times Staff Writers

HOUSTON — He came here to find he was leading off. He had never done that. And he came here to find he was facing Roger Clemens. He had never done that, either.

Before Tuesday night's All-Star game, Tony Gwynn laughed and said: "If I punch out that first time up, I'll take a lot of heat--not only from the guys here, but the guys in San Diego. By game time, I'm gonna be nervous. I won't be laughing. If I hit a 10-hopper back to the pitcher, I'll be happy."

He did better.

Tony Gwynn lined a ball to left-center that was caught on the run by Rickey Henderson.

Somebody congratulated him.

"Oh great," he said.

"He (Clemens) can pitch! Anytime you go out there and face a guy you've never faced before, it's a bad deal. I was looking for the gas. . . . Everything they say about him is true. He can pitch."

This wasn't Gwynn's greatest All-Star game. In six innings, he went 0 for 3. Besides that fly ball, he struck out and grounded out to first. He missed Monday's batting practice so he could spend an extra day at home. When he arrived Monday evening, there was no welcoming committee at the airport.

"Some guy sitting next to me on the plane had a limo," he said. "He gave me a ride to the hotel."

Gwynn had heard so much about a blast that Daryl Strawberry had hit in a home-run hitting contest Monday. Strawberry hit a speaker hanging from the Astrodome roof. Gwynn laughed as he stepped into the batting cage Tuesday. He said: "Me hit the speaker? No way. Watch me hit the white line in back of third base."

He almost did.

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