All-Star game history: 4 Cleveland Indians who started at first base

Cleveland Indians Al Rosen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians Al Rosen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /

Carlos Santana is the latest member of the Cleveland Indians to start an All-Star game at first base, joining a short list of former Tribe players.

It’s not exactly Haley’s Comet, but it’s a rare occurrence to see someone from the Cleveland Indians starting at first base in the MLB All-Star game.

Just four players in Tribe history have had the honor of representing the Tribe at the mid-summer classic at first base, with Carlos Santana being the latest. Santana won the fan vote and will start when Cleveland hosts the event July 9 at Progressive Field.

The Tribe’s got a long history and the All-Star game’s been played since 1933, but only these four first basemen can call themselves starters.

Carlos Santana, 2019: Santana’s first All-Star nod, and it will be a memorable one as he’s the hosting team’s lone starter. It’s surprising that Santana is an All-Star for the first time, but if you’re a Tribe fan, you’re well aware of his historically slow starts.

That’s not the case this season as Santana is batting .290 with a .951 OPS. With 17 home runs, Santana looks poised to break his career-high of 27.

Jim Thome, 1998, 1999: The Hall of Famer is one of the most beloved figures in Indians’ history and is one of the rare players in team history to start back-to-back All-Star games.

In 1999, Thome hit .283 (.949 OPS) with 14 homers and 50 RBIs. He went on a home-run tear in the second half, hitting 19 more bombs to give him 33 for the year.

In 1998, with the Indians coming off an appearance in the World Series, Thome hit .326 (1.090 OPS) in the first half. Injuries slowed him down in the second-half, but he still hit .293 (.997 OPS) with 30 bombs, playing in 123 games.

Vic Wertz, 1957. Wertz is well-known to Tribe fans as the guy who was robbed by Willie Mays‘ over the shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series. It’s reported Wertz hit the ball over 400 feet before Mays made “The Catch.”

Wertz was a great player for the Indians during his time in Cleveland, and batted .282 (.857 OPS) with 28 homers and 105 RBIs in the season he.was chosen as the All-Star starter.

Wertz batted sixth in that game, behind some guys named Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. He was credited with two at bats, knocking a hit and collecting an RBI.

Al Rosen, 1954: Rosen started at first base after starting at third the previous season. The ’54 campaign marked Rosen’s third-straight All-Star nod. He make his final trip to the mid-summer classic the following season.

In 1954, with the game being played din Cleveland, Rosen batted  fifth in the lineup behind Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, yet it was Rosen’s star whose star shined the brightest.

Despite playing with a broken finger, Rosen hit home runs in his first two plate appearances. His five RBIs tied Ted Wiliams’ record, which was set in 1951. This record held up until 2011.

Rosen went on to hit .300 with 24 home runs and 102 RBIs for that 111-win Indians squad, which won the pennant before being swept out of the World Series by the New York Giants.

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Rosen actually played in 87 games at third base in 1954. He played 46 at first. And how’s this for versatility? He started at game at both second base and shortstop.