Looking Back: NWL All-Stars Beat Team USA 1-0

For many baseball fans, July 10, 2001, is remembered for Cal Ripken’s epic All-Star Game sendoff.  His magical performance in Seattle was the epitome of his Hall of Fame career.

But 1,600 miles away, in St. Cloud, Minn., nearly 2,000 fans were witnessing their own unbelievable All-Star Game moment.  In an exhibition game against the USA Baseball National Team, the Northwoods League All-Stars held Team USA scoreless, winning the game 1-0 in a 10-inning pitcher’s duel and handing the national team their first shutout in nearly a year.

USA Baseball starter Kiki Bengochea, who less than a month earlier led his Miami Hurricanes to an NCAA title over Stanford, went 8 2/3 innings allowing just two hits and no runs before giving way to the bullpen. The Northwoods League ran out a lineup of 10 pitchers that were able to match Bengochea’s tenacity, with each team scattering just a handful of hits throughout the 10-inning contest. Dick Radatz, Jr., Northwoods League Chairman, was League President at the time and recalls the difference boiled down to the backstops. “We had two great catchers that stopped their running game. That was our key to victory,” said Radatz.

Fun Facts about the Northwoods League victory over Team USA

  • Team USA had 14 eventual Big Leaguers on their roster, including Rickie Weeks, Carlos Quentin, Sam Fuld, Chris Snyder and Nick Swisher (who did not travel to this game due to injury).
  • USA Baseball left-fielder Rickie Weeks and Northwoods League All-Star Curtis Granderson (Mankato Mashers) would share the baseball spotlight again, finishing the 2002 NCAA baseball season 1st and 2nd respectively in batting.
  • Players from USA Baseball had high praise for their Northwoods League experience, with Bengochea calling it “by far the best place we’ve played so far” in an interview with the St. Cloud Times following the game. He added, “I can see how you could get better playing here all the time.”

Visit our 25th Season Celebration page to read about other memorable moments previously released.