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Missions host another milestone ASG06/30/2011 12:33 AM ET
By Pat Turner / Special to MLB.com
SAN ANTONIO -- Missions president Burl Yarbrough made a big push for this year's Texas League All-Star Game.
Being a charter member, San Antonio seemed a logical choice for the 75th contest. The Missions hosted the 25th and 50th event, so hosting another 25-year event seemed appropriate.
Much to Yarbrough's delight, Wednesday's outing was a night to remember as 6,121 fans watched the South carve out a 3-2 victory over the North at Wolff Stadium.
"I did some maneuvering to get this one," Yarbrough said. "When I saw San Antonio had hosted the 25th and 50th, I felt this was the place it needed to be this year. Heck, if I'm still around in 25 years, I hope to have it for the 100th."
The Missions made it a special night, starting with the Army Strong Home Run Derby. To add a local flair to the contest, high school players Landon Thompson (San Antonio O'Connor) and Marcus Jimenez (San Antonio Marshall) participated with the All-Stars after winning a preliminary round at Wolff Stadium on Saturday.
Thompson, who signed to play baseball at Tarleton State University, stole the show by belting out six to top the field. He hit four in the first round and two in the second.
"Getting a chance to be out there with these guys was a blast," said Thompson, while receiving congratulations from Texas League president Tom Kayser. "Everyone welcomed me and was so nice. I was trying to relax and have fun. I never expected this to happen."
Thompson's heroics were just the beginning. Former league All-Stars Mel Corbo, who played in the 25th game, and Dennis Springer, a participant in the 50th, served as honorary captains. The Missions also made a special tribute to former San Antonio pitcher and longtime Major League scout Al LaMacchia, who died this past September.
For an added bonus, the team's veteran radio play-by-play announcer Roy Acuff was elected into the Texas League Hall of Fame.
"We wanted to have a local twist to it as much as possible," Yarbrough said. "We wanted to honor Al, because he meant so much to all of us here. We were really happy to get the high school kids involved in the Home Run Derby.
"We promoted the heck of the All-Star Game from Day 1. It was a chance to show off the city of San Antonio and what we have."
The Missions didn't really need history to persuade Texas League officials to host this year's midsummer classic. San Antonio dominated the first half by breezing to the South Division title with a 49-21 record, nine games ahead of second-place Frisco. Because of that success, eight Missions were named to the squad, while manager Doug Dascenzo and his staff led the South All-Stars.
"This year's team has been so much fun to watch," Yarbrough said. "We have power, speed and the pitching is good. Back in the fall, our league was talking about having the home team play the All-Stars. On a normal year, you wouldn't want to do that. But I tell you what, we have a team this year that could do it."
San Antonio's players made their presence felt in the game. James Darnell ripped a two-run homer en route to being named the game's MVP and San Antonio pitchers Casey Kelly, Jorge Reyes, Erik Hamren, Nick Vincent and Brad Brach combined with six others to scatter seven hits. Now the Missions are setting their sights on celebrating a Texas League championship in September. They won the title in 2007.
They're tops in pitching with a 3.49 ERA and sport a league-leading .280 batting average with 97 home runs. In addition, San Antonio is 32-8 at home.
Most important, the chemistry has been intact since Opening Day. The Missions have gone through injuries and player callups to San Diego and Portland, but they still have found ways to win.
"This is a very special team," Darnell said. "We have a lot of hard workers. We all feed off one another. There's no substitute for good chemistry."