ST. LOUIS — Carl Crawford raced back to the left-field fence and leaped, his glove barely extending over the eight-foot wall.
For a moment, everyone waited. And then the Tampa Bay speedster raised his mitt for all to see — yup, he caught it!
Crawford made a timely grab and snatched the all-star MVP award Tuesday night, robbing Brad Hawpe of a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of the American League’s 4-3 victory over the NL.
“He hit it pretty good off the bat and I didn’t think it was going to carry that far,” Crawford said. “I don’t think I’ve ever even robbed a home run before. Picked a good time to do it tonight.”
Making his third all-star appearance, Crawford was elected by his fellow players as a reserve. He came off the bench as a pinch hitter in the fifth and singled his first time up before finishing 1 for 3.
Crawford became the first Tampa Bay player to take home MVP honours at the all-star game.
“It feels great to help the team win,” he said.
Considered one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, the 27-year-old Crawford leads the majors with 44 stolen bases. He is batting .309 with eight homers, 39 RBIs and 58 runs for the AL champion Rays.
A three-sport star in high school, Crawford was so talented that he considered playing basketball at UCLA or option quarterback for Nebraska.
But he stuck with baseball, and it’s proved to be a great choice. His outstanding catch helped the AL improve to 12-0-1 in the last 13 all-star games — including seven straight victories.
“That’s part of my game, playing defence,” Crawford said. “You can bring that to the field every day.”