MLB Throwback: Fans stripped of All-Star voting privileges
Following one of the most controversial All-Star voting ballots in MLB history, the commissioner of baseball announced in 1958 that fans could no longer vote for the starting lineup in the All-Star Game. Instead, teams would be selected by major-league players and coaches.
That change, announced 58 years ago today, evokes striking similarities to the current debate not only dominating baseball, but hockey, too. On Sunday, the NHL All-Star Game will feature one of the most unlikeliest players in history when enforcer and fan favorite John Scott takes to the ice in Nashville. This, of course, comes on the heels of last year's voting controversy in baseball when four Kansas City Royals players were voted to start the Midsummer Classic.
Nearly six decades ago, the circumstances were incredibly similar: Fans had voted seven Cincinnati Redlegs players to start the 1957 All-Star Game for the National League amid claims of ballot stuffing and improper voting practices aided by the Cincinnati Enquirer.
1957 NL FAN VOTE
*replaced by the commissioner
An investigation conducted by then commissioner Ford Frick determined that over half the ballots cast came from Cincinnati in a city-wide conspiracy that involved restaurants, bars, and newspapers. Frick, who called the process "a joke," replaced two of the Redlegs starters with superstars Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
On Jan. 29, 1958, Frick announced that fans would no longer select the All-Stars.
It wasn't until the 1970 game - which, ironically or not, was held in Cincinnati - that the league restored the selection of eight position players in each league to the fans. Three years later, American League fans also voted for the designated hitter.
In order to prevent another voting scandal, commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that same year that a special panel would be put in place to protect against ballot stuffing. The league also said the 26 million ballots were evenly distributed to retail outlets, and minor- and major-league stadiums.
2015 FAN VOTE
Despite those measures, the mid-season showcase remains under scrutiny for its voting practices, which critics claim often deny worthy selections in favor of more popular players. Last summer, the league said more than 60 million votes had been canceled, though the reasons for which were not disclosed. Fortunately for MLB, the Royals only ended up with four starters in the game, down from the eight it had initially been on pace for. And fortunately for fans, that just might have saved their vote for another year.