They hope this is just the first of many All-Star appearances. For every Willie Mays, who played his 24th and final All-Star game in Kansas City, there is a Gooden, who was selected in four of his first five seasons and then flamed out because of injuries and drug use.
“I think certain guys who have been introduced to the game of baseball early on in life,” said 40-year-old Chipper Jones, who is retiring at the end of the season. “Travel ball has accelerated so much for the development of young players these days. Back when I played, we played 30 games a year, and I’d move on to football and basketball, and run a little track.”
Yes, much has changed. But much is the same.
Harper wants to become just like Jones, a perennial All-Star respected by his peers.
“Any time I can do that and be that guy that’s the face of baseball, I think that would be great, to be able to do that, to be able to play the game for a long time and respect everybody around me and respect the league,” he said. “That would be a lot of fun.”
NOTES: Detroit’s Prince Fielder became only the second player to win multiple titles in the Home Run Derby, thrilling a crowd of 40,351 with eight splash shots into the right-field fountain and beating Toronto’s Jose Bautista 12-7 in the final round. Ken Griffey Jr. won it three times.