Fans of the Kansas City Royals have voted so assiduously for the team’s players for the All-Star game that Royals players currently lead the balloting at every position except second base and one spot in the outfield.
Only Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuves have broken through the seemingly impenetrable wall created by zealous fans of the Royals.
The only other time fans stuffed the ballot boxes for one team this successfully occurred in 1957, when the Cincinnati Enquirer issued pre-marked ballots in their Sunday editions and Reds’ fans elected seven members of the team to the All-Star game, prompting Commissioner Ford Frick to strip the Reds’ Gus Bell and Wally Post from the starting lineup and replace them with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals was the only non-Reds player elected to the starting lineup. Frick followed by eliminating the fans from voting for the All Star game, which lasted until 1970.
In 1939, the New York Yankees started six players in the All-Star Game: Red Rolfe, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, George Selkirk, Joe Gordon, and Red Ruffing. In 1937, they started five, Rolfe, DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Dickey, and Lefty Gomez. In 1940, they started five again: Charlie Keller, DiMaggio, Dickey, Gordon, and Ruffing. In 1956, the Cincinnati Reds started five: Johnny Temple, Frank Robinson, Gus Bell, Ed Bailey, and Roy McMillan. In 1960, the Yankees started five: Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Bill Skowron, Yogi Berra and starting pitcher Whitey Ford. In 1975, the Oakland A’s started five: Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace, Bert Campaneris and SP Catfish Hunter. The Cincinnati Reds most recently started five players: Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Johnny Bench and Dave Concepción.
Royals reserve outfielder Jarrod Dyson told USA Today, “If we get seven guys voted in. I’m sure they’ll change the rule next year. But hey, I think it’s great. People used to get voted in whether they had a good time or not. It’s time for a change. This is good for the game.”
USA Today pointed out the starting lineup currently leading the All Star voting excludes the top-four hitters, nine of the top-10 home run hitters, and nine of the RBI top 10.
Royals manager Ned Yost found nothing amiss, asserting, “There’s nothing wrong. Vote! The votes are the votes. If you don’t like it, go out there and vote. Our fans have gotten out and voted. Does seven starters surprise you? Yeah. But once you sit back and think about it, it’s really not that surprising.”
Major League Baseball has certified that no illegal voting has caused the outbreak of support for the Royals, who have even placed second baseman Omar Infante, hitting .204, second behind Altuve in the balloting, and Alex Rios fourth among outfielders although he has played only 18 games.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer pointed out, “I don’t know what people want us to do. Are we supposed to tell people to stop voting for us? Look, I could see if it was just Kansas City people filling out random ballots and voting for just us, but when you’re looking at (three) guys getting 4 million votes, that can’t be just coming from Kansas City.”
Fox Sports Midwest spokesman Geoffrey Goldman said the Royals’ ratings are the highest in the country, the highest for this time in the season since the 2007 Boston Red Sox. Kansas City is the 38th-largest market in the country.