KANSAS CITY -- It is the 50th anniversary of what today is known as the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. This Major League Baseball hardware began 50 years ago when there were split All-Star Games, going in that summer of '62 to Leon Wagner of the Angels for one game and to Maury Wills of the Dodgers for the other.
Back then, of course, fans had nothing to do with it. Now you do. The 83rd All-Star Game begins tonight at 7:30 ET on FOX, and starting in the sixth inning, fans will help decide this one exclusively on MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Firestone.
Last year's choice was Prince Fielder, whose three-run homer led the National League to its second consecutive victory. His big Brewers jersey went straight to Cooperstown after he received the hardware, and now he will be starting at first for the American League, representing Detroit. Could he become the first repeat All-Star MVP in the entire half-century of this award? If not, who? That is partly up to you.
By the sixth inning, some strong candidates will have emerged. The voting will continue until the MVP is announced immediately following the end of the game. The online fan vote again will count for 20 percent, with the other 80 percent coming onsite from the Baseball Writers' Association of America and the announcers from the All-Star Game's three broadcast rights holders: FOX Sports, ESPN Radio and MLB International.
Immediately following the conclusion of the All-Star Game, the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player will receive the Arch Ward Trophy, first given to Wagner and Wills.
Think of this as your own grand finale.
First there was the vote for starters. A record total of 40.2 million overall ballots were cast by fans, including three of the largest four days in MLB.com history as the online-only portion streaked to a furious close. There were 391.2 million votes and 34.9 million ballots cast in the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot, both records by far.
Then there was the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Firestone, as fans added Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and Cardinals third baseman David Freese for the 34th and final roster spots. The Final Vote featured powerful campaigns and concluded with the first-ever Twitter vote as tweets with a player's designated hashtag counted in his overall total, leading to a sustained average of more than 2,500 tweets per minute in the final four hours. A record 50 million total votes were cast as fans continued to pour it on.
It is the final and important step in a remarkable run of fan participation in this All-Star Game. Now, who will be your choice for the MVP? Follow the game closely, because you have another important role in online balloting.
For the 50th anniversary of this MVP trophy, just consider some of the legends who have won: Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, Gary Carter, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr., Bo Jackson and Cal Ripken Jr.
These are the players who have won the award since the fan vote was factored in:
2003: Garret Anderson of the Angels
2004: Alfonso Soriano of the Rangers
2005: Miguel Tejada of the Orioles
2006: Michael Young of the Rangers
2007: Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners
2008: J.D. Drew of the Red Sox
2009: Carl Crawford of the Rays
2010: McCann of the Braves
2011: Fielder of the Tigers
"It's something you dream about as a little kid," McCann said, "a moment I'll never forget."
"It's an [All-Star Game] that I'll never forget," Ichiro said after winning in 2007. "The past six years, I never had an All-Star Game when I really thought I gave it my all. So, I'm really happy. It was a fun All-Star Game."
Whichever player you choose, just choose carefully. It's a grand tradition, and these days you are a part of it. History awaits your verdict. Given the way online voting has turned into an absolute happening this summer, it will be interesting to see what kind of participation there is during this Midsummer Classic.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 ET/6:30 CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com.