The starting lineup of the American League All-Star team has Red Sox players at several notable positions.
Leading off for the A.L. is outfielder Mookie Betts, while his teammate, J.D. Martinez, bats fourth in the order (the “cleanup” spot). And on the mound, Boston’s Chris Sale gets the start. It’s a trifecta of impact roles for the 2018 Red Sox.
Historically, it’s rare for one team to monopolize these positions in a starting All-Star lineup, though not unprecedented.
Here’s a look at the other times when a single team has achieved this feat, and how those teams fared in the second half of the season.
The very first All-Star Game showcased what was, for better or worse, the league’s flagship team. The Yankees occupied three of the top four spots in the batting order, as well as the pitcher’s mound.
New York left fielder Ben Chapman led off, with Lou Gehrig hitting cleanup. Lefty Gomez pitched three scoreless innings, though Chapman and Gehrig had quiet days at the plate. The 4-2 A.L. win was decided by the other Yankee in the lineup, Babe Ruth.
The Yankees were the defending champions in 1933, and put forward a valiant title defense (91-59). Yet in a surprise to most of the nation, it was the longtime struggling Washington Senators led by righthander Walter Johnson who took the pennant (and World Series).
Like the ’33 Yankees, the Cardinals were coming off a World Series win when the team put three All-Stars into the crucial positions in 1935.
Third baseman Pepper Martin set the table for the National League lineup, with Joe “Ducky” Medwick hitting cleanup. Bill Walker took the hill, also representing the Cardinals. Walker struggled, surrendering three runs in two innings, and the A.L. once again triumphed.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, surged into the second half of the season, carrying a .651 winning percentage after the All-Star Game. It was enough to take over first place in the N.L., but only for a few weeks. In the middle of September, the Chicago Cubs usurped them yet again and held on to win the pennant.
By 1937, the Yankees were once again in a position of power, though without the player who had propelled them into the national spotlight. Babe Ruth had retired.
In that summer’s All-Star Game, third baseman Red Rolfe hit at the top of the order, while Gehrig reprised his familiar position in the fourth spot. Gomez added to the continuity, again getting the start for the A.L.
Grounded by Gomez’s spotless start and six combined RBI from Gehrig and Rolfe, the A.L. rolled to an 8-3 win. And just as in 1933, another Yankee also hit third: 22-year-old Joe DiMaggio.
For decades after the ’37 Yankees, no team again accounted for the All-Star leadoff and cleanup hitters as well as the starting pitcher. Many teams came close, including the 1942 and 1951 Red Sox, who had the requisite hitters but no pitcher.
It wasn’t until 1973 that a team again accomplished the feat. Fittingly, it was a baseball dynasty. Coming off a World Series win in 1972, the ’73 A’s had shortstop Bert Campaneris leading off for the A.L., with outfielder Reggie Jackson hitting fourth. Catfish Hunter started, and pitched a scoreless inning and a third.
Beyond that, the wheels fell off for the A.L., as the N.L. triumphed, 7-1. Yet the Athletics got the last laugh, repeating as World Series winners in seven games over the Mets. In 1974, Oakland won again to three-peat.
The most recent example on this list involves one of the most talented offenses in baseball history. Cleveland Indians youngsters Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome hit 33 and 38 home runs over the course of the season, respectively, yet didn’t even make the All-Star team.
Meanwhile, teammates Kenny Lofton (hitting leadoff) and Albert Belle (hitting cleanup) highlighted a stacked A.L. lineup.
Of course the game would also spotlight another aspect of Cleveland in 1996: less than stellar pitching. Starter Charles Nagy allowed three runs in two innings, as the A.L. ended up losing, 6-0.
Cleveland went on to a quality second half of the season (47-27) to lead the American League in wins in 1996 (99-62), but the lack of pitching proved fatal in a first round playoff exit to the Orioles.