After a 13-year career with the Angels in which he set a franchise record for home runs, Tim Salmon on July 13 will attend his first All-Star game in Angel Stadium. The former right fielder will also take part in several events leading up to the game.
"I finally made it . . . as a slow-pitch softball player," joked Salmon, who will be among the ex-players participating in Sunday night's All-Star Legends & Celebrity softball game.
"I think I had a better chance as a baseball player. I can't hit slow-pitch. I couldn't hit Jamie Moyer, either."
Eric Karros will be attending his fourth All-Star game next Tuesday -- as a member of the Fox broadcast team working the game. He'll be wearing a suit and tie instead of playing first base in his No. 23 Dodgers jersey.
The careers of Salmon and Karros paralleled each other in many ways. Karros was the National League rookie of the year for the Dodgers in 1992, a year before Salmon was the American League rookie of the year.
Both were cornerstone players and middle-of-the-order sluggers, Salmon playing his entire career in Anaheim, Karros playing 11 of his 13 major league years in Los Angeles.
Since they retired, Salmon and Karros have a more dubious link: They are at the top of baseball's list of players who hit the most home runs in their careers without playing in an All-Star game. Salmon ranks first with 299 homers; Karros is second with 284.
"I'm glad to hear I have some good company," Salmon said. "It's funny because I always considered Eric an All-Star player, just like I felt I was."
Deserving players are often snubbed in the All-Star selection process, of course -- see the Angels' Jered Weaver, Cincinnati's Joey Votto, San Diego's Heath Bell and Atlanta's Billy Wagner, among others, this year -- but it happened to Salmon and Karros more than once.
Both won Silver Slugger awards, and both were named to several postseason all-star teams, but neither was voted into or selected for the All-Star game.
"I was never going to be a fan selection when I was competing with guys like Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell and Fred McGriff," said Karros, who had a .268 career average, 1,027 runs batted in and 797 runs. "It wasn't like I was getting beat out by guys and going, 'Geez, what's going on here?' I didn't have the national recognition. But there were two years where I felt like I had a great opportunity to go."
Those would be 1996, when Karros had 20 homers and 53 RBIs at the break en route to a 34-homer, 111-RBI season; and 2000, when he had 25 homers and 70 RBIs at the break, en route to 31 and 106.
McGriff was voted by fans as the 1996 NL starter at first, and Bagwell was named as a reserve. Andres Galarraga was voted as the 2000 starter at first; McGwire and Todd Helton were the reserves.
"I was watching 'SportsCenter' in 2000, and Dan Patrick was going over the list of guys who got snubbed, and I didn't even make that list," Karros said. "That was one of my best chances, and I didn't make the snubbed list."
Salmon, who finished with a career average of .282, 1,016 RBIs and 986 runs, was a notoriously slow starter who did much of his best work in the second half. At least twice, his All-Star chances were derailed by injuries, in 1998 and 1999.
But he was snubbed despite having 22 homers and 58 RBIs at the break en route to a 30-homer, 98-RBI season in 1996; and 15 homers and 60 RBIs at the break en route to 33 and 129 in 1997.
"It would have been cool to experience it as a player, but it doesn't really sting," Salmon said. "I always said it at the time, and I still believe it, that I always appreciated three days of getting away from the game in the summer.
"There was always a lot of anticipation. Is it going to happen or not? But I always wanted three days off, and I always got it."
Salmon will appear at the All-Star Fanfest and serve as a coach at a Major League Baseball fantasy camp. He'll be at Angel Stadium for Monday's home run derby and will watch the All-Star game with his wife, Marci, from Angels owner Arte Moreno's suite.
Any regret Salmon might have had about never playing in the game has been wiped out by the World Series championship he won with the Angels in 2002.
"Winning the World Series takes away any bitterness of anything else you might not have done in the game," Salmon said. "It covers all inequities."
Karros never won a World Series. "But winning the Silver Slugger award, making the Sporting News all-star teams, that rectified it for me," he said. "Some of the guys who played in All-Star games had four-year careers. I would have loved to have done it, but it didn't work out."
Karros was overshadowed on his own team for much of his Dodgers career by catcher Mike Piazza, a 12-time All-Star. Salmon took a backseat to AL outfielders such as Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez and Juan Gonzalez.
The Angels had a small- and mid-market mentality for most of Salmon's career, which was played under Autry family and Walt Disney Co. ownership, but they're now a big-market entity that has won five of the last six AL West titles.
"If I was playing today with the kinds of numbers I had, I would have been a lot more recognized across the baseball world," Salmon said. "Back then we were the Kansas City [Royals] of today.
"Now, everywhere I go, people know about the Angels; they know they're one of the better organizations in the game."
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Players with the most home runs in their careers without an All-Star appearance (among those who played most of their career after the first All-Star game in 1933):
Tim Salmon 299
Eric Karros 284
Pat Burrell* 272
Matt Stairs* 260
Kirk Gibson 255
Todd Zeile 253
Jose Valentin 249
Deron Johnson 245
Rob Deer 230
Eric Chavez* 230
* -- active