But… I was assured this was a new phenomenon caused by greedy baseball players making tens of millions of dollars per year. Surely no one turned down All-Star appearances 25 years ago.
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, who ranks right up there with Tim Salmon among the best players to never go to an All-Star Game, told MLB.com that he twice turned down the chance to go the Midsummer Classic as a reserve.
In 1985, he went so far as to decline the invite from his own manager, Sparky Anderson. The Tigers won the World Series in 1984, giving Anderson the chance to pick the squad’s reserves.
Gibson again had the chance to go in 1988 when he was with the Dodgers, but he turned down Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, saying he “was kind of missing home.”
He went on to win the NL MVP award that season after hitting .290 with 25 homers and 76 RBI.
It was one of four seasons in which Gibson was named on MVP ballots. He finished in the top 10 of his league in OPS on four occasions and in homers three times, but not once in 17 years did he go to the All-Star Game. He finally did make his first All-Star appearance last night as one of the coaches for the NL team.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: