Every so often, the fans will vote players into the All Star Game that leave the “experts” shaking their heads in disbelief. On this day in 1957, Cincinnati Reds fans took the fan vote to another level, stuffing the ballot box to nearly redwash the National League roster.
Almost every year, there are players in the All Star Game that make us wonder why they are there. Occasionally, these players were included because every team is represented, leading to such moments Mark Redman being named to the 2006 roster. Although, to be fair, the majority of the Royals named that decade were of dubious distinction.
Then, there are those fan votes that make us question the logic of such a vote. Typically, these are faded veterans, making the roster due to name recognition. Or the near miss that was Omar Infante‘s 2015 candidacy. Yet, while Royals fans may have stuffed the ballot that year, they still had a long way to go before they reached the level of the Cincinnati Reds fans in 1957.
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On this day in 1957, the Reds dream to redwash the starting lineup nearly came true. Seven members of the Reds were voted into the starting lineup, with Stan Musial at first being the only player who was not in Cincinnati to be voted in. Perhaps, as a member of the Redbirds, the fans felt it was close enough.
Naturally, this prompted a great deal of distress and gnashing of teeth. While the Reds were a good offensive team, this was not the 1927 Yankees. Understandably suspicious, and despite the protests of Reds fans, Commissioner Ford Frick launched an investigation into the vote.
Very quickly, it was discovered that more than half the votes came from the Cincinnati area. The Cincinnati Enquirer, in a brilliant scheme, had preprinted All Star ballots in the newspaper, all marked with Reds players. There were reports of Cincinnati bars refusing to serve the patrons until they filled out an All Star ballot, and it had better be all Reds.
This spurred Frick to take action. Gus Bell and Wally Post were removed from the starting lineup, with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays inserted. Bell remained on the roster as a backup, but Post, who was injured, was removed. Frick also took away the fan vote, as the All Star Game rosters were determined by the managers, players, and coaching staffs until 1970.
When the vote returned to the fans, a special committee was created to review the voting. The ballots were distributed evenly around the majors and minors, as well as 75,000 retail stores. While there may have been some curious representatives, there was nothing quite like that wholesale disaster from 1957.