For a young ballplayer, the thrill of seeing his name on an All-Star Game ballot for the first time could only be surpassed by the honor of being selected to play in the Midsummer Classic.
Young talents such as Bryan LaHair (Cubs), Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero (Mariners), Mark Trumbo (Angels), Jemile Weeks and Yoenis Cespedes (A's), Desmond Jennings (Rays), Jose Altuve (Astros), Dee Gordon (Dodgers), Jason Kipnis (Indians), Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas (Royals) -- the latter two of whom could play in front of a partisan Kansas City crowd at Kauffman Stadium -- are making their All-Star Game ballot debuts this year, with hopes of representing their respective teams and leagues at the 83rd-annual contest.
"It's an honor," Hosmer said. "I remember when I was a little kid walking into the ballpark and getting those [ballots] and stamping the holes in there. Just to have my name on it is an honor for me."
Hosmer, who broke onto the scene last season, hit .293 with 19 home runs and 78 RBIs in 128 games as a rookie.
"I'm in the big leagues now," said Jennings, who drove in 25 runs and stole 20 bases in 63 games for the Rays last year. "It's something you want to do in your career. You want to be an All-Star, but you want to win, too. It's like a step below winning, being an All-Star, so it's pretty cool to see."
The well-rounded Kipnis leads the Tribe in stolen bases with four and is tied for the team lead in homers with three, while Ackley and Montero entered Friday having combined for five doubles, three homers and 20 RBIs.
Gordon entered play on Friday leading all Major Leaguers in stolen bases with 10, and the 21-year-old Altuve -- who at 5-foot-5 is the shortest and second-youngest player in the Majors -- recorded four hits on Wednesday to raise his average to .447.
"I just want to see my name in the lineup and put my uniform on and go play hard," Altuve said.
Weeks had a prolific yet under-the-radar rookie campaign with Oakland, hitting .303 with 26 doubles, 36 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. LaHair, who played 45 games for the Mariners in 2008 and 20 for the Cubs last season, has been productive for Chicago this year. The first baseman was hitting .375 with 10 RBIs through 15 games.
"It's cool to see those things," LaHair said of being on the ballot. "It's just another new experience for me. Every time a new experience comes around, it's always fun to see -- my family was excited to see that."
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot through June 28.Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players from each league who they would most like to see participate. The Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on July 9. The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on July 1 on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the game, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy. The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10. Visit MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities. 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. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, visit AllStarGame.com or Royals.com/asg. LaHair said he hasn't picked up a ballot to keep as a souvenir, but expected plenty of the fans in Chicago and his hometown of Worcester, Mass., to get out the vote. And for Hosmer, Kansas City fans can help get him playing in front of a friendly crowd come July.
"It's going to be exciting," Hosmer said. "I'm glad that the ballpark has had so many nice, new renovations. I'm glad the world gets a chance to see the renovations and I think it will be good that people will get to see what Kansas City is like now and I think it will attract more fans for us."