Where the stars don’t shine

Nine clubs have been waiting at least 20 years to host the All-Star Game

Baseball’s midseason festivities will culminate in the All-Star Game this evening, finally giving Denver a chance to shine.

Tonight’s exhibition will be the first ASG hosted by the Colorado Rockies since 1998, ending a 23-year drought.

But Denver wasn’t supposed to be the focus of the baseball world this evening. Commissioner Rob Manfred reassigned the game to the Rockies from the Braves in April, following passage of a controversial election bill by Georgia’s legislature. Critics charged that the law was designed to suppress voting by members of minority groups.

Atlanta has been waiting quite awhile to host the All-Star Game, too, though not as long as Denver. The Braves last staged an ASG in 2000.

Baseball’s power structure doles out All-Star assignments to teams that boast new stadiums and/or enthusiastic fan bases. Two of the next five have already been made.

Next year’s exhibition will be held at Dodger Stadium, a rescheduling of 2020’s Covid-cancelled event that had been slated for Los Angeles. It will be the first ASG there since 1980.

And the 2026 game has been granted to Philadelphia to celebrate the nation’s 250th birthday. It will come exactly 30 years after the Phillies’ most recent ASG in 1996.

Sites for the 2023, 2024, and 2025 All-Star Games have not yet been announced. The list of eager suitors is lengthy, beginning with nine franchises that haven’t been honored for at least 20 years.

The prospects appear to be limited for some of these long-spurned hopefuls. The Rangers, Rays, and (of course) the Braves are based in Southern states that enacted (or sought to enact) voting restrictions after Donald Trump’s defeat in last year’s presidential election. It’s hard to imagine any of them being favored by Manfred in the next year or two.

The Rays carry a double burden. Tampa Bay is the only current big-league franchise that has never hosted an All-Star Game, an obvious reflection of baseball’s disdain for Tropicana Field and the Rays’ anemic attendance.

Listed below are the 10 clubs that have been waiting the longest to play All-Star host, along with brief rundowns of their past brushes with midseason fame.

Some of these franchises have extensive All-Star histories. The Cubs (Wrigley Field) and Red Sox (Fenway Park) have both hosted three ASGs in their current stadiums, which ties them for the all-time lead among active ballparks.

The Braves (who opened in 2017) and Rangers (2020) both have new stadiums that have never hosted an All-Star Game, which might eventually boost their chances of being selected. (The Yankees, who are not among the impatient 10, also fit in that group in a manner of speaking. They last hosted an ASG in 2008, the year before the opening of the current incarnation of Yankee Stadium.)

And, of course, we can never forget the unfortunate Rays. They have to be picked sometime, don’t they?

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1. Oakland Athletics

  • Years without ASG: 34

  • Last ASG hosted: 1987

  • What happened then: The game went on and on and on, yet nobody seemed able to score. The National League finally broke through when Tim Raines tripled home two runs in the 13th inning.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1960 (in Kansas City), 1943 (in Philadelphia)

2. Chicago Cubs

  • Years without ASG: 31

  • Last ASG hosted: 1990

  • What happened then: The game was shorter than Oakland’s marathon, but the score was the same. The American League came out on top this time, clinching a 2-0 win when Julio Franco doubled home both runs in the seventh.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1962, 1947

3. Toronto Blue Jays

  • Years without ASG: 30

  • Last ASG hosted: 1991

  • What happened then: This was the second time the ASG was played outside the United States, and both pitchers of record came from Canadian teams. Jimmy Key of the Blue Jays took the 4-2 win for the AL. The Expos’ Dennis Martinez was saddled with the loss.

  • Other ASGs hosted: None

4. Baltimore Orioles

  • Years without ASG: 28

  • Last ASG hosted: 1993

  • What happened then: The NL scored a pair of runs in the first inning, but then the American League unleashed its weapons. Homers by Kirby Puckett and Roberto Alomar propelled the AL to a 9-3 win.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1958 (in Baltimore), 1948 (in St. Louis)

5. Texas Rangers

  • Years without ASG: 26

  • Last ASG hosted: 1995

  • What happened then: The American League tried to make an early 2-0 lead stand up, but the NL rallied with lone runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, taking a 3-2 win. The victors managed only three hits all game.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1969, 1962 (both in Washington)

6. Tampa Bay Rays

  • Years without ASG: 24

  • Last ASG hosted: None

  • What happened then: The Rays, who initially took the field in 1998, are still waiting for their first invitation to host an All-Star Game. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be favored until they get a new ballpark.

  • Other ASGs hosted: None

7. Boston Red Sox

  • Years without ASG: 22

  • Last ASG hosted: 1999

  • What happened then: Ted Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch as Fenway Park ended its 38-year All-Star drought. AL starter Pedro Martinez struck out five of the six batters he faced. His side took a 4-1 win.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1961, 1946

8. Atlanta Braves

  • Years without ASG: 21

  • Last ASG hosted: 2000

  • What happened then: Atlanta had the 2021 ASG snatched away, but it benefited in like fashion in 2000. The game was reassigned to the Braves from the Marlins, whose attendance was lagging badly in Miami. (What else is new?) The AL scored three runs in the ninth to seal a 6-3 victory.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1972 (in Atlanta), 1955 (in Milwaukee), 1936 (in Boston)

9. Seattle Mariners

  • Years without ASG: 20

  • Last ASG hosted: 2001

  • What happened then: Cal Ripken Jr. appeared at shortstop for the 15th time in an All-Star Game, setting a record, and he homered to give the American League its first run. Ripken was named the Most Valuable Player of the AL’s 4-1 win.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1979

10. Milwaukee Brewers

  • Years without ASG: 19

  • Last ASG hosted: 2002

  • What happened then: It was the ultimate embarrassment. Both teams ran out of pitchers after the 11th inning, and the game was declared a 7-7 deadlock. The crowd booed loudly when the tie was announced, and fans began chanting, “Let them play!” Commissioner Bud Selig did not relent.

  • Other ASGs hosted: 1975