The MLB All-Star game is meant to showcase the best talent at the midway point of the season. The more often you are elected the higher the odds are you are a great player bound for the Hall of Fame.
To make the task of seeing which players have appeared in the most All-Star games without getting a call from Cooperstown we must first eliminate players not yet eligible. Current players like Derek Jeter or recently retired like Ivan Rodriguez will probably be elected into the Hall of Fame unless they burn every bridge imaginable. Also not included will be players marked with controversy. Steroids and gambling being the two biggest, we cannot consider names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, or Peter Rose.
This takes out a lot of names as the theory holds true, the more All-Star games you attend the higher the chances you enter Cooperstown. However, there is one long-retired player who will never make the Hall of Fame and was named an All-Star 11 times. His name, Bill Freehan.
If the name does not sound familiar you are not alone. Bill Freehan is rarely mentioned in any conversation, especially not the Hall of Fame. Freehan spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers in the 1960s and into the 1970s. His two most notable seasons came in 1967 and 1968 when he finished 3rd and 2nd respectively in MVP voting. Freehan’s numbers were simply not good enough. The multi-gold glove winning backstop will forever have the distinction of being solid but never great.
Freehan finished his career with 1591 hits, 200 home runs, and a .262 batting average. From 1965-1969 he won his 5 Gold Gloves.
Among recent players to compare Freehan to, the best might be Jason Varitek. Varitek also spent his entire catching career with one team and was a noted leader, even to the point where the Boston Red Sox made him team captain.
Unlike Freehan, Varitek only made 3 All-Star appearances and was the winner of 1 Gold Glove. Their overall stats much up closely though. Varitek had 1307 hits, 193 home runs, and a .256 batting average. Varitek also had 757 career RBIs, one behind Freehan’s career 758.
The next names on the list of most All-Star appearances without being a member of the Hall of Fame (sans controversy) are a little more well-known:
10 Times – Steve Garvey
9 Times – Elston Howard
9 Times – Dave Concepcion
9 Times – Fred Lynn
9 Times – Frank McCormick
There has been plenty of talk about Garvey, Howard, and Concepcion deserving spots in the Hall of Fame. Oddly enough, the big highlight from Lynn’s record year actually included a walk-off home run in the All-Star game.
Freehan’s legacy may forever be known for this distinction of All-Star appearances and lack of Hall of Fame recognition. Although, Tigers fans may remember him better as the catcher for the 1968 championship team.