Fans pick Oswalt for final All-Star spot
Astros right-hander bests Hoffman in Final Vote tally
HOUSTON -- The fans have spoken, and as a result Roy Oswalt can pack his bags for Detroit. The right-hander won a spot on the National League All-Star roster thanks to an overwhelming amount of support for the Astros ace in the Ameriquest All-Star Final Vote.
Oswalt received 2,652,549 votes to finish tops among the five candidates, all pitchers. He was followed by Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres, Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Billy Wagner of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Brett Myers, also of the Phillies.
The American League selection, Scott Podsednik, received 3,965,473 votes. He was followed by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins, Hideki Matsui of the Yankees and Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
With an 11-7 record and a 2.44 ERA, Oswalt captured the attention of fans nationwide as one of the most deserving players to not make the roster through players' and managers' votes, which were submitted more than a week and a half ago.
Being recognized by the public made this selection extra meaningful for Oswalt, who is the first pitcher since 1934 to be elected to the All-Star team by fan voting.
"I think it's better for some of the fans to participate in picking some of the pitchers," Oswalt said. "Not just the managers and guys around the league. It's good to let some of the fans pick both sides."
The news that Oswalt made the All-Star team arrived in the third inning of the Astros' game with the Padres on Wednesday, when public address announcer Bob Ford revealed the results. Oswalt received a standing ovation from most of the 29,774 fans in attendance at Minute Maid Park. The right-hander humbly tipped his cap as his teammates mobbed him in the dugout.
A record 14.8 million votes were cast in this year's Final Vote on MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, its 30 official club sites, and ESPN.com.
Oswalt joins teammates Roger Clemens and Brad Lidge as the Astros' All-Star representatives. It's the first time since 1999 that three Houston pitchers have been named to the team. Jose Lima, Billy Wagner and Mike Hampton were All-Stars in '99 in Boston, as was first baseman Jeff Bagwell.
Oswalt said both sides of his family are going to the game, including his wife, Nicole, his daughter, Arlee, his brother and sister, his parents and Nicole's parents.
"Hopefully, I can get enough [tickets], or they can watch from the hotel," Oswalt joked.
In his last 10 starts, Oswalt is 7-3 with a 1.31 ERA. He has thrown two complete games in his last five starts, including a gem in his most recent outing on Monday against the Padres. Oswalt allowed one run on five hits in a 104-pitch start that led to a 4-1 Houston win.
Oswalt said he suspected that a good start that day might sway fans to vote in his favor in the Ameriquest Final Vote, and he may have been right. What began as a slim margin over Hoffman progressed into a nice, healthy lead over the rest of Oswalt's NL competition.
The right-hander had the backing of plenty of the people in Houston and around the country during the three-day voting process, but he also had some serious help from his own inner circle.
Several teammates logged on to MLB.com to vote for the right-hander, and general manager Tim Purpura voted several times while doing his weekly radio show with the Astros' flagship station following the game on July 4.
Oswalt's teammates seemed especially pleased when the announcement was finally made during Wednesday's game. They were hovering around him as if he had just thrown a perfect game in the World Series.
Turns out, there was an ulterior motive.
"They told me they were going to stand behind me so they can get on TV," Oswalt said.
So that's why Bagwell, who's out of action until September at the earliest, was sitting right next to Oswalt when the scoreboard operators panned the dugout.
"We were all huddled up down there by Roy," Bagwell laughed. "I said, 'Well, I don't want anyone to forget about me.'"
So he gave a wave, and then patted Oswalt on the shoulder.
"Everyone was laughing at me, saying, 'Look at you, you loser,'" Bagwell said. "But that was our plan. You never know. They could forget about me, so I wanted to make sure to get on TV."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.