Baseball ballot duty is not taken lightly
- May 28, 2012 - 8:30 AM
Fans were given the privilege of determining via vote the starters in the MLB All-Star Game starting in 1947. A ballot-stuffing controversy in Cincinnati in 1957 cost them that privilege temporarily, but it was reinstated in 1970 and has survived relatively unscathed since then.
Even now in the Internet era, when voting online is possible, fans traveling to ballparks in the early part of the season often will find themselves handed a ballot with position-by-position choices for each league. These ballots have barely changed for as long as we can remember -- right down to needing a key, or preferably a pen/pencil, to make your perforations of choice. Ballot veterans might casually grab one at a game and fill it out along the way -- less as a privilege but as a duty or a right.
Our 12-year-old brother, Ben, we discovered this weekend, never previously had the opportunity to vote in person for his favorite players. And it was somewhat amusing, but mostly heartening, to see how seriously he took the task.
At Friday's Twins game, he grabbed ballots. But they were not to be filled out at the game. Instead, we brought them home and they were distributed to all interested parties. First thing Saturday morning -- it was, seriously, all he could talk about -- the two of us along with our dad sat down for some serious ballot research.
We all had a decent working knowledge of many of the players and the types of seasons they were having. But Ben's idea was this: For each position, we would identify a handful of worthy candidates. Then, one by one, we would look up these players on baseball-reference.com, comparing offensive and defensive stats on each until we reached a consensus that would ideally be marked on all three ballots.
The entire process took roughly an hour. Shamefully, this is possibly more time than a lot of us spend researching candidates for elected office. But since Ben is not of voting age in those types of elections, the diligence could still be rewarding.
With one exception -- a line in the sand was drawn when it comes to AL catcher, though we're not revealing by whom or for whom, as ballots are secret and sacred -- we came up with three very comprehensive and consistent All-Star ballots.
Upon returning to Target Field on Saturday for another game, the ballots were carefully deposited into their proper return spots. They were just three of many millions of poked-out pieces of paper, but they were certainly considered and delivered with more love and care than any we had ever experienced.
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