When Orlando Arcia and Sean Murphy join Ronald Acuña Jr. in the starting lineup for the National League in the July 11 contest, it will be the first time in 63 years that the franchise has three position players as All-Star starters. Then located in Milwaukee, the ‘60 Braves had Hall of Famers Henry Aaron (right field) and Eddie Mathews (third base) starting along with teammates Joe Adcock (first base) and Del Crandall (catcher) in the 5-3 National League victory July 11 in Kansas City.
Two days later, the quartet started again during the second year of baseball’s experiment with two All-Star games from 1959-62. The second game was added to raise money for the MLB players’ pension funds and other causes. The experiment later was abandoned; many felt having two games watered down the event’s appeal.
So, on July 13, 1960 – when current Braves manager Brian Snitker was 4 years old and nine years before the opening of I-285 in metro Atlanta – Mathews homered in the 6-0 win at Yankee Stadium to complete the summer sweep. The price of gas was 31 cents per gallon that summer, and the franchise was six years away from moving to the South.
And now almost 63 years to the day later, the Braves will start another right fielder and catcher in the All-Star game – along with a shortstop who many believed wouldn’t start on this year’s Braves team.
Since the franchise began play in Atlanta in 1966, the Braves have had two position players as All-Star starters 13 times (14 if you include the 2021 game Acuna missed after sustaining a knee injury). Nine of those included Hall of Famers Aaron, Chipper Jones and Fred McGriff.
Oh, and then you had Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield in 2003. Nine years later, Dan Uggla and Rafael Furcal. And then Acuna with Freddie Freeman in 2019 and William Contreras last year.
Hall of Fame pitchers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz each started with a pair of position players during the ‘90s.
-In 1992 – when current GM Alex Anthopoulos was 15 and Snitker now managing the Macon Braves – Glavine started with McGriff at first and Terry Pendleton at third in the NL’s 13-6 loss.
-In 1996 – Less than two weeks before the start of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta – Smoltz, McGriff and Jones were part of the NL’s 6-0 victory.
-In 1998 – when current All-Stars Arcia and Murphy were 3 years old and Acuna 6-1/2 months old – Maddux, Jones and Walt Weiss were part of the NL’s 13-8 loss.