ATLANTA -- For two out of Boston's three 2004 All-Stars, the honor was yet another stamp on a prolific career. But it was much more than that for Sox DH-1B David Ortiz.
The left-handed slugger's first All-Star berth was yet another sign of how far he has elevated his game since coming to the Red Sox last season.
Ortiz, the American League leader in RBIs, will ride shotgun with teammates Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling in Houston on July 13.
"I feel great, especially for David," said Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez. "Curt and Manny have always been there. I'm happy for them. But for David, his first time, he was praying he'd make it. I just can't describe how happy I am for him."
Ramirez, Boston's lethal cleanup man, was voted in by the fans as a starter for the fourth time in his four seasons with the Sox. It was Ramirez's eighth career selection to the All-Star team.
The left fielder became just the third player in Red Sox history to be voted in four consecutive times, joining Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (1967-72) and five-time batting champion Wade Boggs (1986-92).
"I'm just very proud to be selected to the All-Star Game once again. That's something that, when you're not playing anymore, that's always going to be there for your kids," said Ramirez. "You're always going to remember that. I just want to thank all my fans. They're always good to me. It is fun, especially when the fans vote for you. It's going to be real fun."
While other Sox players have been in and out of the lineup with injuries, Ramirez and Ortiz have carried the offense at times.
Ramirez is hitting .340 with 22 homers, 65 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .656.
Ortiz has proved that his breakout last year, when he finished fifth in the American League MVP voting, was no fluke. He's elevated his game even more this year, hitting .306 with 31 doubles, 22 homers and a league-leading 76 RBIs. The Sox signed Ortiz in January 2003, after he was released by the Twins.
"He's been unbelievable," Sox manager Terry Francona said of Ortiz. "I just think he's gotten to the point in his career where I think he knows he belongs. He made a splash last year kind of and now he realizes he belongs. I guess the thing I really appreciate is he's taking this and kind of running with it. He understands that not only being a good hitter, but being a good player, there's lot of responsibility and accountability that comes with it. I see him learning that and getting better at it."
Manny Ramirez / LF
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
For Ortiz, it was the culmination of years of hard work.
"I worked for it, man," said Ortiz. "I try my best all the time. I had the hope that one day I was going to have the chance and here we are. Now I'll just keep trying to have more opportunities."
His work this season was recognized by his peers, as Ortiz was selected by a combination of players, coaches and managers. He had 480 votes, beating out Kevin Harvey (189) by nearly 300 votes at first base.
As for Schilling, he has been just the rock for the rotation the Sox envisioned when they traded for him the day after Thanksgiving and then signed him to a two-year extension. The right-hander and six-time All-Star is 11-4, placing him in a tie with Kenny Rogers for the league lead in wins. His 3.08 ERA was fourth at the start of play on Sunday. His 120 innings lead the league.
Even at the age of 37, the thrill of going to the All-Star Game has not worn off.
Curt Schilling / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"It's never gotten old," said Schilling. "It's the best players on the planet. To be included in that is something I'm very proud of."
Schilling's worth has never been more evident than in the last few weeks, as the Sox have been in a rut as a team. He's taken the ball seven consecutive times following a Boston loss, and the Sox have won six times.
"Obviously, Curt is having a Schilling-type year," said Red Sox closer Keith Foulke. "He's going out there and dominating the game. He's definitely an All-Star."
Like Ortiz, Schilling was voted in by his peers. With 243 votes, he ranked second behind Oakland's Mark Mulder (289) in the pitcher balloting.
Other Sox who made strong All-Star bids but didn't make the team were Martinez and Foulke. Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star, is 8-3 with a 3.74 ERA and has 105 strikeouts.
"I'm an old goat," quipped Martinez. "There's a lot of people to choose. A lot of people are having great years. To me, it's not a big deal."
Foulke has been dominant in his first year with the Sox, posting a 1.28 ERA over his first 36 outings. Hurting his bid was a lack of save opportunities. He is 13 for 16 and has had just one save opportunity since June 13.
"I'll have three days of nice tan from Arizona," said Foulke. "That all goes back to, it's kind of a numbers game sometimes, I'm happy with the way I'm throwing the ball. I didn't make it. Arizona is nice this time of year."
And for three members of the Red Sox, so, too, will Houston.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.