BOSTON -- Manager Bobby Valentine was an American League coach at the 1988 All-Star Game, a 2-1 win for his side. That was the score in the top of the ninth inning at the Reds' Riverfront Stadium when Royals third baseman George Brett pinch-hit against Cardinals right-hander Todd Worrell. Brett didn't reach, but the moment was nonetheless poignant for Valentine.
"George Brett wasn't a starter on the team in that game. I thought he should've been obviously, because he was one of the greatest payers I'd ever seen play," Valentine said.
Brett flied out to Andres Galarraga, but the moment wasn't lost on Valentine.
"It was just one of those wonderful competitions that sometimes are not part and parcel to the All-Star Game, where George was really into it, the crowd was into it," said Valentine. "The results weren't what he wanted, but it was the essence of competition."
Valentine's 10-season playing career in the Majors did not feature an All-Star selection. He was the manager of the All-Star Game in 2001, for the National League after he took the Mets to the prior year's World Series.
That experience of picking players, though, wasn't one he'd want back.
"I called every manager. I managed for 16 years and I never got called by another manager and I called every manager," Valentine said. "Got their opinions and even selected people because of their opinion. It was the deciding vote."
This year, the Red Sox have a couple players doing very well, but without enough at-bats to make an All-Star selection seem a lock, or fair. Outfielder Daniel Nava and third baseman Will Middlebrooks fit that bill.
"I would think it's difficult for national recognition, the actual selection process," Valentine said. "I always think there's an All-Star team that's selected at the end of the year that's the one you really want to be on, but it's a great honor to do the midseason one also because it counts more, doesn't it? You're an All-Star for half a year or you're an All-Star for a whole year."
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, though, is in the middle of a potential career year, and Valentine is prepared to lobby to get Saltalamacchia to the game.
"I think he should be an All-Star, and he probably will. Again, this isn't a good topic for me. I don't know if the process has changed. I don't know how they are all selected. I should. I'm sorry," Valentine said during the Sox's just completed homestand. "We're going to Seattle, so I should mention I had an All-Star Game in Seattle [in 2001]. It was the most difficult six weeks of my life prior to the All-Star Game, trying to pick that team. There was a lot of burden on the managers for picking the extra players and I think they've taken that out of the hands of the managers now."
The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.