CHICAGO — Paul Konerko is going home.
Next Tuesday’s game is in Phoenix, making it extra special for Konerko. The first baseman grew up in Arizona and lives in Scottsdale in the offseason.
“You never don’t want to go if you can go,” said Konerko, selected for the fifth time. “It’s a good time. It’s something you always remember. It’s a special time, especially growing up watching the games on TV.
“I don’t think you ever play long enough or do enough where going to the All-Star game isn’t a big deal.”
Victorino also was elected in baseball’s “final vote” in 2009, when he got a record 15.9 million votes. He reached 9.2 million this year, good enough to beat Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Todd Helton of the Rockies, Mike Morse of the Nationals and Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks.
“The past few days have been incredible,” Victorino said in a release. “To take the lead from Day 1 shows how supportive the fans have been from the start of the campaign.
“Just to be on the ballot was exciting, but to be the first player to be selected by the fans twice is such a tremendous honor.”
Konerko beat Detroit’s Victor Martinez, Kansas City’s Alex Gordon, Baltimore’s Adam Jones and Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist, receiving 8.4 million votes.
“Usually as a player, you’ve got people coming out of the woodwork as you go through the season always wanting something,” Konerko said. “This was kind of cool because I had a bunch of people come out of the woodwork but telling me they’re voting for me, doing me a favor.
“That’s kind of neat, people coming out and telling me that they told their whole church to vote for me. Everybody’s got their own story.”
Konerko and Victorino got loads of help from their teams, with the Phillies and White Sox each launching marketing campaigns designed to get their player into the game. The White Sox teamed with the Dodgers to drum up support for their candidates, and the Phillies did the same with the Tigers.
Victorino also received some high-profile help from buddy UFC President Dana White and Shaquille O’Neal, who each posted messages of support on their Twitter accounts.
“The fans in Philadelphia and Hawaii as well as my offseason home in Las Vegas are so loyal to me - that’s what means more than anything,” Victorino said. “I would also like to thank the Detroit fans for their support, as well as all fans around baseball, who thought I was worthy of this final All-Star spot. Mahalo to everyone for making my trip to Arizona possible.”
Victorino is batting .303 with nine homers and 34 RBIs for the NL East-leading Phillies, who were off on Thursday. Teammates Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Placido Polanco also have been selected for the game.