CUMBERLAND — The 92nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game is coming to Cobb County.
In front of a packed crowd on the plaza inside The Battery Atlanta and backed by a star-studded dais that included former Atlanta Braves greats Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred made everything official.
“I have a nice task today,” Manfred said Thursday before the Braves’ game against the Washington Nationals. “I’m here to announce Major League Baseball has awarded the 2021 Major League All-Star Game to the city of Atlanta.
“It’s the fifth All-Star Game for the Braves and third for Atlanta. We haven’t been here since 2000, and it’s about time that we were back.”
Also in attendance were Gov. Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, whose district includes SunTrust Park and the Battery.
In addition, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk announced that, in conjunction with the game, the All-Star Fan Fest will be held at the Cobb Galleria, and concerts will be at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.
By the time the game arrives in Cobb County, the Braves could have a loaded stable of All-Stars, with a young core that features Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Mike Soroka and Max Fried.
Smoltz, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery when the 2000 All-Star Game was at Turner Field, said playing an All-Star Game at home is something special.
“When you dream of playing in an All-Star game, you don’t care what city,” said Smoltz, an eight-time All-Star. “But when you get to play in your home park, it’s icing on the cake.
“That’s the excitement. Whenever you are building something big and building toward it, Acuna, Riley, Soroka — all the guys you think will be primed and ready. The fans will have a nice base of young players to vote for.”
It will be the fifth All-Star game in Braves franchise history, including one at each of the three Atlanta ballparks. The game was held in 1972 at Fulton County Stadium.
Since SunTrust Park opened in 2017, the Braves had been working with Major League Baseball to secure the All-Star Game.
MLB has tried to accommodate teams with new stadiums by bringing the game to those cities as quickly as possible. The Braves had hoped to get the 2020 game, but it was awarded last year to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Fifteen new parks have opened since 2000 and, of those, only Philadelphia’s Citizen Bank Ballpark and the new Yankee Stadium have yet to host the game. The Phillies, however, have already been announced as the host for the 2026 All-Star Game, making the 250-year anniversary of America’s independence.
“We have a list of at least 10 cities that want the All-Star Game,” Manfred said.
The game continues a trend of big events coming to the metro Atlanta area.
In 2018, Atlanta hosted the Major League Soccer All-Star game and the MLS Cup final, which crowned Atlanta United as the league champion. It also hosted the College Football Playoff national championship game, which could return to the city as early as 2024.
Earlier this year, the city hosted its third Super Bowl, when the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams. Next year, the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four will be held downtown.
Atlanta All-Star Game HistoryThe 43rd All-Star Game, 1972: The National League, with help of a two-run home run by starting right fielder Hank Aaron, defeated the American League 4-3 in 10 innings.
Aaron was the only member of the Braves to make the NL All-Star team that year. His homer gave the NL a 2-1 lead.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the NL tied the game when the Chicago Cubs’ Billy Williams scored on a groundout by Cincinnati’s Lee May.
In the 10th, the Reds’ Joe Morgan hit a single to score San Diego’s Nate Colbert with the winning run. Morgan was named the game’s MVP.
Braves radio announcer Don Sutton, then pitching for the Dodgers, pitched two scoreless innings.
The 71st All-Star Game, 2000: The American League, with three runs in the top of the ninth inning, beat the National League 6-3.
The NL roster featured six Braves. Chipper Jones started at third base, Andres Galarraga was at first, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were members of the pitching staff, Andruw Jones was a reserve outfielder and Bobby Cox was the manager.
Chipper Jones went 3-for-3, and his home run in the third inning tied the game 1-all.
Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, Andruw Jones had an RBI single to cut the deficit to one run, but the AL put the game away in the ninth.
Galarraga had a hit in the game, while Glavine pitched one perfect inning. Maddux did not play because of injury.
Galarraga was the fan favorite of the night. A year after missing the 1999 season because of cancer surgery, he earned a long standing ovation when he was introduced.
Former Yankees legend Derek Jeter, who went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, was named the game’s MVP.