WASHINGTON — Willson Contreras sure knows how to make an entrance.
Back in 2016, the Cubs catcher homered on the first pitch of his first at-bat as a major leaguer. On the All-Star stage for the first time Tuesday, he ripped a home run to left off Blue Jays lefty Blake Snell on the first pitch of his first at-bat. It got the National League on the board in a wild 8-6 victory for the American League that featured a game-record 10 long balls.
Former A’s catcher Terry Steinbach was the only other player to homer in his first career at-bat and his first All-Star at-bat, according to state guru Chris Kamka.
“I think I’m really blessed in these kind of situations. These moments are going to be history and they’re going to be in my mind and my heart.
Contreras didn’t spoil a chance to enjoy a trip around the bases. He slowed down rounding third, put it in low gear and pointed with both hands to the sky, giving thanks to God and honoring his grandfather, Ernesto Contreras, who died in 2015. All the while, teammate Javy Baez, the next batter, was waiting for him at home plate.
“I wanted to enjoy the moment,” he said. “You don’t hit homers every day, especially in these kinds of All-Star Games.”
There was nearly another vintage Contreras moment in the fourth. Contreras fired a snap throw to first in an attempt to pick off Yankees star Aaron Judge. But the mountainous Judge dove in just ahead of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman’s tag.
“District of Contreras,” the Cubs tweeted from their official team account after his homer.
What was Contreras thinking as he rounded the bases?
“I just said, ‘I did it. I did it.’ You know? I did it. I knew it was something special.”