For only the second time since 1996 there will be three MLBbros starting in the outfield for the American League at the All-Star Game.
Sunday afternoon it was announced that Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton would step into the American League starting lineup after Mike Trout pulled out of the game due to injury, making way for a historic moment.
The last time the AL started three Black outfielders was 2017; with Houston’s George Springer, Boston’s Mookie Betts, and Aaron Judge of the Yankees patrolling Marlins Park.
Judge is back, along with teammate Giancarlo Stanton to join Buxton among the starters as the American League looks to win the Midsummer Classic for the eighth straight time.
Before 2017, the AL hadn’t started three Black outfielders since 1995 when Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, and Kirby Puckett did so. From 1991-95, each time the American League filled out its lineup card, there were three Black outfielders leading the way.
They weren’t just stars of their day either, these were some of the greatest of all-time. A collection of MVPs and future Hall of Famers.
During that five-year stretch Ken Griffey Jr. and Puckett made the All-Star team four times each. Both are enshrined in Cooperstown. Two-time World Series champion Joe Carter was a part of three of those teams, with Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson, Belle, and Lofton each appearing once over that span.
Two times in five years isn’t exactly bringing the game to the golden era of Black participation in Major League Baseball, but it is a major step forward and a testament to the increasing level of Black talent coming back to the game.
Perhaps another generation of stars will be inspired by what they see Tuesday night in Dodger Stadium when Judge, Buxton, and Stanton run out to take their positions.
And, perhaps one or more of the three will lay another brick on their path to the Hall of Fame themselves.
Either way, it’ll be great to see.