The very first All-Star game in Major League Baseball took place as part of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. The brain child of this inaugural event was Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune. Because of its huge success, it has become an annual event and is nostalgically referred to as the Midsummer Classic. The resemblance of this title to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in my mind, adds to its romantic allure and pulls me even deeper into it. For one night of the year, the stage is set with the best players the game has to offer. At least, according to the fans who cast the ballots.
What part have the Chicago Cubs played in the history of this annual match between the leagues? Which players hold records for appearances in their respective positions? I set out to discover the answer.
Let’s start with the infielders. Ernie Banks was voted into the All-Star game more than any other Cub. From 1955-1969, Mr. Cub played primarily at shortstop and for a few times at first base. I’d say fourteen years of representation is an excellent indicator of the caliber of player he was. Elite and beloved.
Coming in at second was Ryne Sandberg, who played for 10 consecutive years, from 1984-1993. Ryne was a rare breed, indeed. Not very many second basemen put up the power numbers he had. One year he hit 40 home runs. Ryne also knew how to flash the leather. He is the only second baseman in history to have nine Golden Gloves. Wow.
Ron Santo comes in third. Fans voted him in at third base nine times, although in 1964 he did not play.
I would be remiss if I did not remind readers that Billy Herman played at second for seven consecutive years from 1934-1940 and Don Kessinger patrolled short for six years in the late sixties and early seventies.
As far as first base goes, lefty Mark Grace earned the most All-Star ballots (3). How I miss that perfect swing and his Golden Glove moves.
Who were the Cubs’ outfielders that made the most All-Star game appearances? Right fielder, Slammin’ Sammy Sosa was the leading vote getter with seven. Billy Williams made it to the Classic six times as both a right fielder and left fielder. The Hawk, Andre Dawson, represented the National League five times in right field. In centerfield, Andy Pafco received the majority of votes.
Now let’s look at the pitcher and catcher positions. Gabby Hartnett worked the plate from the first year of the All-Star game in 1933 and went on to receive votes in consecutive years through 1938. Can you guess the top vote-receiving pitchers? I’ll help you out. Claude Passeau and Bruce Sutter each had four vote ins, followed by the great Fergie Jenkins and Big Z, Carlos Zambrano, with three apiece.
I obtained this information from the Chicago Cubs All-Star record page. It should be updated because it has no data for 2014 and 2015. Travis Wood was the last Cubs pitcher/player listed for 2013, although he sat the bench, which made us all angry. In 2014, Jeff Samardzija, The Shark, could have pitched in his first All-Star game. However, he was not allowed to play because he got traded to the Athletics. The league switch made him ineligible. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo represented the Cubs in 2014. And we all know that Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant made it to the elite roster last year.
What’s more disturbing to me is that The All-Star game has been lacking in Cubs starters/players for a very long time. This year could and should be entirely different in regard to their representation in the Midsummer Classic. Fans possess the means to make it happen.
I have no doubt that the early success the Cubs have had will reach far beyond their premier performance. They currently hold the best record in baseball, with three of their starting pitchers ranked in the top 10 for lowest ERA. That alone is huge. Combine lights-out pitching with a team batting average that is steadily climbing and throw in defensive prowess around the horn and you will end up with a cast of All-Star starter shoe-ins. Get a jump on voting today right here: All-Star Ballot. It’s time for the curtain to open on an epic, blockbuster show. Let’s turn Petco into Cubco … Vote now!