The All Star game holds a special place in my baseball heart - and maybe yours as well. While I used to watch the whole game (and I even kept score a couple of years - which I don’t recommend), the most exciting part of game isn’t the game its self - at least not to me.
It’s the player introductions.
If you loved baseball as a kid, I’m sure you more-than-once imagined yourself as an All Star. Even in that self-concocted fantasy world, there was pride in the proclamation of being named “All Star” and pretending to doff your cap when your name was announced.
Now, each year, it’s those introduction that I enjoy the most.
“And now your National League All Star reserves. From the Atlanta Braves ...”
It’s okay if you filled in your name there. I did, too.
Back to the real baseball world where a select few get to live out that dream and hear their name announced as an All Star for the Atlanta Braves.
Since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, there have been 157 selections of Braves players to the National League All Star team - including six this year.
Like the rest of this retrospective series, the focus here will be on this most-modern, post-1990 era, but this is a special honor, so here’s a look at all the players who were selected to the National League All Star team since 1966.
There’s only one place we can start and that is with Henry Aaron. He was selected to a total of 25 All Star games, 24 of which came as a member of the Braves. (A reminder, if you forgot, that two All Star games were played for a handful of years in the late 1950s to early 1960s.)
Of those 25 appearances for Aaron, nine came after the team moved to Atlanta. Even though it is not uncommon for an outfielder to play a outfield position other than his primary position during the game, Aaron was selected as the starting right fielder in 1972 despite playing first base and in 1973 as a first baseman although he played most of the season in right field.
Ah, the days of paper All Star ballots.
In the Atlanta-era of the the 1960s, catcher Joe Torre and infielder/outfielder Felipe Alou joined Aaron as multiple year selections. A handful of other players were also selected, with the most notable being the first selection of Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro’s career.
In the 1970s, the Braves had six different multiple-time All Stars make their only All Star appearance as a member of the Braves. Niekro and second baseman Felix Millan were the only Braves to join Aaron in making multiple All Star teams with Atlanta, while another five players made the only All Star game of their career as a Brave.
Among Atlanta’s All Stars was relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, who made the 1970 All Star team as a reliever at age 47. It was the last of eight All Star appearances for the Hall of Famer.
The 1980s began with outfielder Dale Murphy making his first All Star appearance as the Braves lone representative in 1980. It would be the first of seven All Star games for Murphy, including five as a starter. The only other Braves player to appear in two All Star games in the decade was catcher Bruce Benedict, who was selected in 1981 and 1983.
The decade ended with John Smoltz’s first All Star selection - and the only one for the Braves that season.
The decade of the 1990s set sail with catcher Greg Olson representing the Braves as their only selection. Starting pitcher Tom Glavine held the same honor as Olson in 1991.
After than 1991 All Star game, things changed for the Atlanta franchise, and that shows up in the number of All Star selections the team had for the decade.
After 18 total selections in the 1980s (and 21 in the 1970s), the Braves had a whopping 37 selections in the 1990s. That’s 35 selection in the final eight years of the decade - more than four per season.
Multiple-time All Stars for the Braves included Glavine, starting pitcher John Smoltz, outfielder David Justice, shortstop Jeff Blauser, first baseman Fred McGriff, starting pitcher Greg Maddux, third baseman Chipper Jones and catcher Javy Lopez.
The 2000s didn’t quite meet the same standards as the 1990s, but the first decade of the new millennium still saw 29 Braves selections with only 2004 yielding a single selection, the honor of which was bestowed upon catcher Johnny Estrada.
The decade began with the second of two selections for first baseman Andres Galarraga and the first of five selections for centerfielder Andruw Jones. Other players to appear in two-or-more All Star games included Chipper Jones, Glavine, Smoltz, and catcher Brian McCann.
The Braves organization rebounded in the 2010s - despite a fall-off in regular season success in the middle part of the decade - with 31 selections for the decade. First baseman Freddie Freeman appeared in four All Star games tying closer Craig Kimbrel for the most selections during that ten-year period.
The only other Braves All Star to appear in more than one game during the decade was starting pitcher Julio Teheran, who was the team’s only selection in both 2014 and 2016.
So far in the 2020s, the Braves have had nine All Stars, headlined by two selections of outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr., bringing his current career total to three.
Despite the shortened 2020 season, it is a shame that MLB didn’t at least select All Stars after the season, even if no game was played. If it had, there is no doubt that the Braves would have had multiple selections that season.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of Atlanta’s All Star selections over the past 50+ years Braves baseball in the Deep South.
Most Selections with Atlanta Since 1990
8 - Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine
7 - John Smoltz, Brian McCann
6 - Greg Maddux
5 - Andruw Jones, Freddie Freeman
4 - Craig Kimbrel
Total Player Career All Star Selections Since 1990*
10 - Tom Glavine
9 - Gary Sheffield
8 - John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrell
7 - Billy Wagner, Brian McCann
6 - Kenny Lofton
*-Includes selections prior to 1990 for players appearing as an All Star for Atlanta post-1990
Selections as an All Star Starter Since 1990
5 - Chipper Jones, 3B
3 - Freddie Freeman, 1B
3 - Greg Maddux, SP
2 - David Justice, RF
2 - Tom Glavine, SP
2 - Fred McGriff, 1B
2 - Ronald Acuna, Jr., CF, RF
All Star Starters by Position Since 1990
C (2) - Javy Lopez, Brian McCann
1B (6) - Freddie Freemen (3), Fred McGriff (2), Andres Galarraga
2B (2) - Martin Prado, Dan Uggla
SS (3) - Jeff Blauser, Walt Weiss, Edgar Renteria
3B (6) - Chipper Jones (5), Terry Pendleton
CF (1) - Ronald Acuna, Jr.
RF (5) - David Justice (2), Gary Sheffield, Nick Markakis, Ronald Acuna, Jr.
SP (6) - Greg Maddux (3), Tom Glavine (2), John Smoltz
DH (1)* - William Contreras
*Based on the NL adding the designated hitter as a permanent regular season position in 2022.
Selections by Primary Position Since 1990
32 - Starting Pitcher
14 - Catcher*
10 - First Base
10 - Third Base
9 - Relief Pitcher
9 - Right Field
9 - Center Field
6 - Shortstop
5 - Second Base
1 - Left Field
1 - Utility**
*-Although William Contreras started at DH in 2022 for the NL based on the voting, he appeared in more games at catcher than designated hitter prior to the All Star Game.
**-Omar Infante appeared at six different positions with Atlanta for the season 2010 season, with 65 coming at second base. Prior to the All Star Game he appeared in more games at third base and in the outfield than at second base.
Most Selections as an Atlanta Braves Player Since 1966
1 - (9) Hank Aaron
2 - (8) John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones
3 - (7) Dale Murphy, Brian McCann
4 - (6) Greg Maddux
5 - (5) Joe Torre, Andruw Jones
Youngest Selections Since 1966
Jason Heyward, 20 (2010)
Mike Soroka, 21 (2019)
Ozzie Albies, 21 (2018)
Ronald Acuna, Jr., 21 (2019)
John Smoltz, 22 (1989)
Brian McCann, 22 (2006)
Oldest Selections Since 1966
Hoyt Wilhelm, 47 (1970)
Phil Niekro, 43 (1982)
Chipper Jones, 40 (2012)
John Smoltz, 40 (2007)
Hank Aaron, 40 (1974)
All Star Selections, 1960s (Since 1966)
Hank Aaron (4), Felipe Alou (2), Joe Torre (2), Denny Lemaster, Felix Millan, Phil Niekro, Ron Reed
Youngest Selection: Ron Reed, starting pitcher, 25 (1968)
Oldest Selection: Hank Aaron, right field, 35 (1969)
All Star Selections, 1970s
Hank Aaron (5), Felix Millan (2), Phil Niekro (2), Andy Messersmith, Biff Pocoroba, Buzz Capra, Darrell Evans, Davey Johnson, Dick Ruthven, Gary Matthews, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jeff Burroughs, Ralph Garr, Rico Carty, Willie Montanez
Youngest Selection: Biff Pocoroba, catcher, 24 (1978)
Oldest Selection: Hoyt Wilhelm, relief pitcher, 47, (1970)
All Star Selections, 1980s
Dale Murphy (7), Bruce Benedict (2), Bob Horner, Claudell Washington, Gerald Perry, Glenn Hubbard, John Smoltz, Ozzie Virgil, Pascual Perez, Phil Niekro, Rafael Ramirez
Youngest Selection: John Smoltz, starting pitcher, 22 (1989)
Oldest Selection: Phil Niekro, starting pitcher, 43 (1982)
All Star Selections, 1990s
Tom Glavine (6), Greg Maddux (5), Chipper Jones (3), Fred McGriff (3), John Smoltz (3), David Justice (2), Javy Lopez (2), Jeff Blauser (2), Andres Galarraga, Brian Jordan, Denny Neagle, Greg Olson, Kenny Lofton, Kevin Millwood, Mark Wohlers, Ron Gant, Steve Avery, Terry Pendleton, Walt Weiss
Youngest Selection: Steve Avery, starting pitcher, 23 (1993)
Oldest Selection: Andres Galarraga, first baseman, 37 (1998)
All Star Selections, 2000s
Andruw Jones (5), John Smoltz (4), Brian McCann (4), Chipper Jones (3), Tom Glavine (2), Andres Galarraga, Edgar Renteria, Gary Sheffield, Greg Maddux, Javy Lopez, John Burkett, Johnny Estrada, Marcus Giles, Mike Remlinger, Rafael Furcal, Russ Ortiz
Youngest Selection: Brian McCann, catcher, 22 (2006)
Oldest Selection: John Smoltz, starting pitcher, 40 (2007)
All Star Selections, 2010s
Craig Kimbrel (4), Freddie Freeman (4), Brian McCann (3), Chipper Jones (2), Julio Teheran (2), Billy Wagner, Dan Uggla, Ender Inciarte, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Jonny Venters, Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Soroka, Nick Markakis, Omar Infante, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Jr., Shelby Miller, Tim Hudson
Youngest Selection: Jason Heyward, right fielder, 20 (2010)
Oldest Selection: Chipper Jones, third baseman, 40 (2012)
All Star Selections, 2020s (through 2022)
Ronald Acuna, Jr., (2), Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Travis d’Arnaud, William Contreras, Max Fried, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley
Youngest Selection: Ronald Acuna, Jr., right fielder, 23 (2021)
Oldest Selection: Travis d’Arnaud, catcher, 33 (2022)
- Fred McGriff (1994) and Brian McCann (2010) are the only two Atlanta Braves to be named MVP of the All Star game.
- John Smoltz is the only Braves All Star to be both the youngest and oldest All Star for a specific decade.
- No Braves player has ever hit more than one home run in a single All Star Game.
- Since 1966, Hank Aaron (1971, 1972) and Andruw Jones (2003, 2005) are the only Braves to homer in more than one All Star Game.
- Chipper Jones (2000) and Aaron (1972) both hit home runs in Atlanta when the Braves were the host team.
- Aaron is also the only Brave with two or more stolen bases in their All Star career while with Atlanta.
- Andruw Jones (2003) and McCann (2010) both drove in three runs in a single game, which is the most for any Brave.
- Smoltz (1996) is the only Braves pitcher to record a win in the All Star Game.
- Since the team moved to Atlanta, Phil Niekro is the only Brave to earn a save (he had 29 during his regular season career).
- Craig Kimbrel (2014) and Tom Glavine (1991) have the most strike outs in a single All Star Game appearance with three. Kimbrel struck out the side, in order, in his 2014 appearance. Glavine’s three strikeouts came in a two inning stint in the ‘91 game.
- Bobby Cox (5) and Brian Snitker are the only Braves managers to manage the National League All Star team since the team moved to Atlanta.
- Atlanta has hosted two All Star Games with the first in 1972 and the second in 2000. The region was to have hosted the 2021 All Star Game but it was moved to Denver because of reasons. Cue Forrest Gump.
Obscurity is relative, but by decade, here are some of the players who were selected to the All Star Game that you likely didn’t remember:
- Starting with post-1966 selections, I’ll go with Denny Lemaster, starting pitcher, 1967. It was his last season with Atlanta before heading to Houston.
- There are a few options for the 1970s, but Dick Ruthven’s selection as a starting pitcher in 1976 leads this list. He was actually selected again in 1981 with the Phillies.
- Another former Phillie, first baseman Willie Montanez, is also someone you likely didn’t know was an All Star, even through he was selected in 1977.
- A special mention to starting pitcher Buzz Capra (1974) and catcher Biff Pocoroba (1978) for having All Star names, in addition to their All Star selections.
- With so many one-time-only selections in the 1980s, it’s tough to choose just one, so we will again go with a former Phillie, catcher Ozzie Virgil who was selected in 1987.
- Gerald Perry’s 1988 selection as a first baseman is also one you may not have recalled.
- With the success the team had in the 1990s, many of the names are well-known with the fanbase, but Kenny Lofton’s 1997 selection as an outfielder may have been forgettable since he was only with the team for a single season.
- Shortstop Walt Weiss was a starter in 1998, but he is a player whose All Star appearance may have slipped from your memory.
- The Braves only had two selections in 2001: Chipper Jones and a starting pitcher. Kudos to you if you remember that the starter that season wasn’t Maddux, Glavine or Smoltz. It was John Burkett.
- Another starting pitcher will earn mention for skipping out of your brain in the 2000s. Russ Ortiz was one of five Braves to be selected in 2003.
- Although only four years ago, good on you if you remember that starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz was an All Star in 2018. You might have forgotten that fact. I know I had.
- Shelby Miller was the lone Braves representative in 2015 as a starting pitcher. It’s a shame he hasn’t able to stay healthy; but he was fantastic for the Braves during his All Star season - a season that was otherwise largely forgettable.
Although the All Star Game isn’t perfect, being selected to the game is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of the 80-or-so players and coaches that participate in the festivities each year.
To all those former Braves who got to experience the game and festivities associated with being an All Star, congratulations and hopefully this year’s game will remind you of fond memories from your time in the spotlight.
And for the rest of us, on that special Tuesday evening in mid-July, we hope to get the joy of hearing, “And now the starters for the National League ... from the Atlanta Braves ...”
Yes, I filled my name in there again. I bet you did, too.