Pujols leads Majors in All-Star votes
Cardinals slugger top online vote-getter for second time
CINCINNATI -- Baseball fans made their voices heard, and they made it abundantly clear: this season and this All-Star Game belong to Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals slugger was the top online vote-getter and top overall vote-getter in balloting for the 2009 All-Star Game, the second time in his career that he has received each of those designations. He was similarly recognized in 2006. The game is set for July 14 at Busch Stadium.
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Pujols, now an eight-time National League All-Star, collected 5,397,374 votes, the second-highest total in Major League Baseball history.
"It's always special," Pujols said. "It doesn't matter how you make an All-Star team, if it's by the fans or the players choosing you or the manager. It's always a special honor to be an All-Star."
It's the sixth time Pujols has been a member of the NL's starting lineup, including two appearances as designated hitter. He'll be joined on the NL roster by teammates Ryan Franklin and Yadier Molina, both of whom are first-time All-Stars.
"I'm pretty excited for Franklin and Yadi, their first All-Star [Game]," Pujols said. "Many, many to come for both of those guys. I think they're going to have a great experience, and it's well-deserved."
Online voters tend to honor the players with the best stats, even at times at the expense of higher-profile players. But at this point in his career, Pujols is both. He's one of the game's most recognized stars, and he's enjoying a historic season.
"I don't even think that's home cooking," manager Tony La Russa said. "I just think that's recognition around the country that he's had a phenomenal first half on top of a phenomenal career. I'm sure our fans supported him, but he's been incredible and it's well-deserved."
Already in 2009, Pujols has set Cardinals franchise records for grand slams in a season (four) and in a career (10). He's extended his own Major League record streak with his ninth straight 30-homer season to start a career. He became the seventh player in the history of the game to reach 30 home runs before July 1, and he became the third-youngest player in history to hit his 350th career homer.
All of it with a half season still to play.
It's an especially sweet honor for the Cardinals superstar, because the game will be played in his own home ballpark. All of All-Star week is likely to be dominated by the two-time Most Valuable Player, since he is also expected to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby.
"It feels great to be there, representing the organization and the city that you play in," Pujols said. "Last year was a great experience in New York, looking back and seeing the standing ovations for [Derek] Jeter and [Alex Rodriguez]. I'm pretty sure when they call all our three names, it's going to be the same thing. It's just great for the fans. I think MLB did a great job [choosing] St. Louis. And I think it's going to be really exciting."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.