HOUSTON — In becoming the first rookie ever voted by fans to start an All-Star Game, Wally Joyner also symbolizes the shift of young talent to the American League.
The Angel first baseman is one of several young "naturals" in the majors, and all of them are playing in the American League.
That doesn't assure an AL victory in the 57th All-Star Game Tuesday night at Houston, but it emphatically ends the era when the National League had not only the biggest stars but depth as well.
Joyner, Oakland's Jose Canseco and Texas' Pete Incaviglia are all rookie hitters who could have some impact. Boston right-hander Roger Clemens can throw as hard as any of the National Leaguers who have overpowered the American League for years.
That group does not even include Minnesota outfielder Kirby Puckett, whom the fans have voted to the starting lineup.
"This is quite a thrill," Puckett said. "When I was in high school, I made an all-star team. I really didn't think I would make this one but I guess all the attention I got from my home runs paid off.
"To beat out a guy like Reggie Jackson, who is a sure Hall of Famer, is really exciting. He's one of the first guys I met in the pros and he's been very nice to me."
National League domination of the All-Star Game began in 1950, or three years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
Entering the 1950 game, the AL owned a 12-4 lead in the All-Star series. Since then, the NL has won 32 and lost 7 with 1 tie. The NL won last year's game in Minneapolis 6-1 and leads the series 36-19-1.
Joyner became a prominent baseball name before the season even began because it was he was replacing Rod Carew at first base for the Angels. In spring training, he impressed California manager Gene Mauch with his fielding. Then he showed he could hit, also. Through July 9, he owned 20 homers and was 6 behind Canseco's major league-leading total of 67 RBI.
"Some people think my start is a fluke," Joyner said. "I'm not always mentioned with the other rookies. . . . When you get all the clippings, the pitchers get pumped to get you out. I just want to keep it low."
Puckett, through a late show of support, edged 14-time All-Star Jackson for one of three outfield positions. Puckett will be making his first All-Star Game appearance.
Other AL starters are New York Yankee outfielders Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, Detroit second baseman Lou Whitaker, Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken, the league's leading vote-getter with 1,486,806, Kansas City third baseman George Brett, and Detroit catcher Lance Parrish.
In the National League, the New York Mets landed four players in the starting lineup, including Dwight Gooden as the starting pitcher. Outfielder Darryl Strawberry, first baseman Keith Hernandez and catcher Gary Carter have all been voted by the fans. They are joined by Atlanta's Dale Murphy and San Diego's Tony Gwynn in the outfield, Ryne Sandberg of Chicago at second, Ozzie Smith of St. Louis at shortstop, and Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt at third.
Dick Howser of Kansas City will lead the American League and Whitey Herzog of St. Louis will head the National.
Howser has named Clemens to start, setting up a dream matchup involving two of the hardest throwers in the game.
Seven of the eight pitchers chosen by Howser and AL president Bobby Brown will be making their first All-Star appearances. Joining Clemens as first time All-Stars are Don Aase of the Baltimore Orioles, Ted Higuera of the Milwaukee Brewers, Charlie Hough of the Texas Rangers, Dave Righetti of the New York Yankees, Ken Schrom of the Cleveland Indians and Mike Witt of the Angels.
Willie Hernandez of the Detroit Tigers, an All-Star the previous two years, completes the AL pitching staff.
The NL will have six newcomers on its 10-member pitching staff. Sid Fernandez of the New York Mets, Mike Scott and Dave Smith of the Houston Astros, Shane Rawley of the Philadelphia Phillies, Mike Krukow of the San Francisco Giants and John Franco of the Cincinnati Reds are the first-timers.
Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers, Rick Rhoden of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Jeff Reardon of the Montreal Expos complete the staff as selected by Herzog and league president Charles (Chub) Feeney.