CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber was the talk of the town Tuesday night when he was named the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game at his home park, Progressive Field.
While getting the trophy and a new truck from Chevrolet were cool, Bieber felt the fans were what made the moment memorable, as they serenaded him with raucous cheers throughout the presentation.
“Just to be able to do it in front of the home crowd and my first All-Star Game is definitely not something I expected, especially being added to the game five days ago, four or five days ago,” said Bieber, who was a late addition to the American League team.
“Just to be able to do it in front of the home crowd was extremely special to me, and they definitely helped me.”
Twenty-two years after former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. became the first player ever to win the All-Star Game MVP Award in his home ballpark, Bieber became the third, as he earned the honor in the 90th Midsummer Classic.
Bieber won the award after throwing a perfect fifth inning and becoming the first Indians pitcher to strike out the side 1-2-3 in the MLB All-Star Game.
On in relief during the top of the fifth inning, Bieber set down the National League with three strikeouts and preserved a 1-0 lead in what turned out to be a 4-3 victory for the American League.
As the crowd chanted “Let’s go, Bieber” loudly, he wound up and struck out Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. looking for the final out of the top of the inning.
“It’s incredible,” Bieber said. “The city of Cleveland has not just embraced me, but embraced this team for so long. It’s such a good, hard, gritty town. I can’t say enough about how this All-Star Weekend and week has been run. I was talking to some guys and they said it’s one of the better-run All-Star Games and weekends that they’ve been to, and those are guys that have been to three or four, five, six All-Star games.
“I think that means a lot, and I think that’s really special to say about the city of Cleveland. They always have our back, no matter what, even when we were a little bit further down in the standings earlier in the year. Now that we’re making a push at it, you can definitely feel the momentum, especially from the city.”
When Bieber registered the third strikeout, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor greeted him near the dugout and delivered a message that made the moment even sweeter for the first-time AL All-Star.
“It was incredible,” Bieber recalled. “He said, ‘Congrats, proud of you.’ Brad (Hand) and Frankie having been there a couple of times themselves, they told me to just enjoy it. It’s going to be a lot, and it sure was, but just take it all in as much as I could, and go with it and roll with it and enjoy it.
“He said he was proud of me and getting that reception from the dugout and those guys and those names was extremely special.”
Bieber “heard everything and really soaked it all in” as the crowd rose to cheer him on before he retired Acuna Jr. and was grateful to have done that because it delivered a one-of-a-kind moment.
“I can’t really thank the fans enough for creating that moment for me and making it really special,” Bieber said.