All-Star Votebook: Real 'American Idol'
Voter-participation program rivals some elections
America, it's time to get your ballots ready, and we're not talking about voting for "American Idol."
We're talking about an American tradition where you can all root on some of your idols, but it doesn't involve singing, unless you consider the sound of a wood bat hitting a 95-mph fastball music.
It's Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, of course, and this year's is the 76th version, to be exact. It's a game that will enthrall baseball fans all over the world when it takes place Tuesday, July 12, at Comerica Park in Detroit.
And in the history of the Midsummer Classic, there have been a lot more votes counted than in any rendition of "Idol."
So Paula, take it easy.
Randy, it's true, dog.
Simon, get over it.
The All-Star Game has a storied and interesting history. Since the first All-Star Game in 1933, for example, selection of the All-Star teams has shifted from fans to managers on several occasions. In 1933 and '34, selection of the All-Star teams was up to the fans, who could vote for the All-Stars through newspaper ads featuring official ballots, similar to the voting that's currently available here and at your local ballpark.
But from 1935-46, each league's eight managers selected the participants while the All-Star team managers chose the starters. Balloting for the starting lineups, tabulated by The Associated Press, was returned to the fans from 1947-57. However, a case of ballot-stuffing by Cincinnati fans in 1957 prompted Commissioner Ford Frick to make player selection the privilege of managers, players and coaches from 1958-69.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn returned voting to the fans in 1970. Since then, All-Star fan balloting has developed into one of the largest voter-participation programs in the United States outside of state and national elections.
In other words, Brady Clark and Ruben Gotay will be seen on more ballots this year than Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard, especially now that online voting has exploded with the evolution of MLB.com.
And especially since the 2003 season marked the introduction of the player ballot to the All-Star selection process.
As a result of this innovation, each league's players, managers and coaches will elect eight position players and eight pitchers from their league in 2005. And because the Midsummer Classic is being held in an American League park, a designated hitter will also be selected. Player balloting will be conducted during the last week of fan voting.
Overall since 1970, more than 268 million ballots have been cast, including more than 127 million since 1990. MLB set a new record in 2004, with 14.9 million votes cast, surpassing the previous total of 14,040,122 for the 1994 All-Star Game.
Last year was historic for voting. Texas Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano, in his first year as a Ranger, collected the most votes of any player in baseball, a total of 3,466,447.
And St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen tallied a National League-high 3,187,710 votes.
Who will it be this year?
Log on to MLB.com, check the stats, and make your decisions.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.