Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 7/4/12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. And to think: without Ken Griffey Jr.s hamstring, Carlos Beltran mightve gone from an Astro to an asterisk. That was the first time Id been selected as an All-Star, the former Kansas City Royals center fielder said when asked about his strange mid-summer journey of 2004. And I was thinking, Wow, first time, and Im not going to participate. This is bad luck. As luck would have it, the Royals sortof wound up with two participants in the 2004 All-Star Game in Houston one on each team. The short version of the story goes a little like this: Beltran was traded from the Royals to the Houston Astros on June 24. At the time of the move, he was hitting .278 with 15 home runs and 14 steals in 69 games. The native of Puerto Rico had blossomed into Kansas Citys best all-around player and one of the most riveting forces of nature in the American League. But he was also in a contract year and was expected to pursue free agency in the off-season, so the Royals shipped him to Houston as part of a three-team deal that saw Kansas City acquire two young everyday players in third baseman Mark Teahen and catcher John Buck. As it turned out, Beltran brought some baggage to Houston the good kind, the historical kind: Hed been elected by his peers to the AL All-Star team. And they were thinking about not letting me participate because I was traded, recalled Beltran, whos slated to participate in the 2012 mid-summer classic at Kauffman Stadium as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Beltran was in virgin territory in the Summer of 04, having become the first player chosen for the All-Star team in one league before being traded to the other. It was also a quandary as a member of the Astros, he couldnt play for the other league, even retroactively. And he hadnt been selected, formally, for the National League squad by his new NL compatriots. Beltran found himself an All-Star without a roster spot; he could participate in the festivities, but not play in the game. A baseball anomaly. That is, until fate intervened. Fate and a hamstring. Unfortunately, Ken Griffey got hurt, recalled Beltran, who was named to the NL team as Griffeys injury replacement. And I got the call that I was going to be able to be selected to the All-Star Game. So you know, (in the end), I was able to participate, I was able to get one at-bat and be there, with so many good players. But the Royals 28-41 and last in the American League Central when theyd dealt Beltran still, by rule, needed a player to represent them on the AL roster. Enter Ken Harvey. The husky first basemandesignated hitter was putting together his first and, in hindsight, last notable half as a big-leaguer, hitting .305 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI at the All-Star break. He definitely deserves to be here," Harvey told reporters before the 2004 contest. "You don't want to see Griffey go down like that but I'm glad for Carlos." Of course, Harveys first All-Star assignment wasnt kind: AL manager Joe Torre brought him off the bench to face Randy Johnson. The ex-Nebraska Cornhuskers standout was tapped to pinch-hit in the top of the third for Mark Mulder with one out and the bases loaded. Johnson struck Harvey out on a slider clocked at 87 miles per hour. Beltran fared better, pinch-hitting for Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the fourth inning, singling off C.C. Sabathia and eventually scoring on a double by Albert Pujols. It was a weird deal, Beltran said. But it worked out pretty good, because I represented the team in the All-Star Game, which was in Houston; they really welcomed me big-time. And it felt great. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
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