As you may have heard, the recent blockbuster trade that brought pitcher Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs to the A's has left Samardzija in a weird state of limbo.
Samardzija was voted onto the National League roster for the upcoming MLB All-Star Game by his fellow players, but MLB has ruled that he can't pitch for the NL team because he now belongs to the A's, who play in the American League. Furthermore, he can't be part of the AL squad, either, because he wasn't selected to be on that roster.
There's an interesting uni-related wrinkle to all of this. According to an initial report Sunday, MLB's plan was for Samardzija to "be introduced with the NL players before the All-Star Game," but it hadn't yet been determined whether he'd wear "a Cubs or A's uniform -- or a generic NL jersey." That question was apparently resolved on Monday, when A's beat reporter Susan Slusser reported that Samardzjia will wear a generic NL jersey and sit in the NL dugout -- even though he now plays in the AL. Bizarre!
The last time anything like this happened was during the 2004 season, when Carlos Beltran was traded from the Royals to the Astros on June 24. At the time of the trade, Beltran was among the top three outfielders in the American League All-Star fan voting. Much like Samardzija, he was ruled ineligible to play for the AL All-Star team because he had switched leagues, and he wasn't named to the NL squad when the rosters were initially announced. He was later added the NL team as a replacement for Ken Griffey Jr., who'd been voted onto the team but had to miss the game due to an injury. At the time, it was believed to be the first instance of a player being voted into the All-Star Game for one league and then representing the other league.
Samardzija could end up in a similar scenario. If an American League All-Star pitcher comes down with an injury this week or has to miss the game for other reasons, Samardzija could be named as the roster replacement.
There have also been unusual uni-related situations involving players who were traded within their leagues just prior to the All-Star Game. In 1998, for example, Reds reliever Jeff Shaw was chosen for the NL All-Star team. But on July 4 -- the Saturday before the All-Star break -- Shaw was traded to the Dodgers. He didn't have enough time to join the Dodgers for their game on July 5, so he went straight to Coors Field in Colorado, the site of that year's All-Star Game, where a Dodgers uniform was shipped to him. When he appeared in the Midsummer Classic on July 7, it was his first game action in a Dodgers uni, marking the first and so far only time a player has made his team-uni debut at an All-Star Game. (Further info here.)
The All-Star Game can also present uniform oddities for managers. By tradition, the two pennant-winning managers in a given season get to skipper their respective leagues' All-Star teams the following year. But what if a pennant-winning manager has changed teams during the offseason?
That was the situation for the American League in 1974. Dick Williams had piloted the A's to the world title the previous year, but he had left Oakland during the winter after a nasty split with owner Charles Finley and signed on to manage the Angels. So he wore an Angels uni while managing the 1974 AL All-Stars, even though he had earned the right to do so while wearing an A's uniform.
The same thing happened nearly 30 years later when Dusty Baker managed the Giants to the 2002 National League pennant. He left the Giants during the offseason and was promptly hired to manage the Cubs. So the 2003 All-Star Game featured a rare sight: the NL manager wearing a Cubs uniform.
But Williams and Baker changed teams within their own leagues. What if a pennant-winning manager changes leagues? That's what happened after the 1964 season, when both pennant-winning teams lost their managers: Johnny Keane resigned from the Cardinals and the Yankees fired Yogi Berra -- and hired Keane. Keane had earned the right to manage the National League, but he was now managing in the other league. Meanwhile, Berra had become a coach with the Mets. What to do?
In the end, Keane and Berra both sat out the 1965 All-Star Game. The teams were managed by the two second-place skippers from the previous season -- Gene Mauch of the Phillies and Al Lopez of the White Sox. (Ironically, Mauch's performance down the stretch in 1964 is still considered one of the worst managing jobs in MLB history, yet it earned him the only All-Star managerial gig of his career due to Keane switching leagues.)
Late-breaking trades can wreak All-Star havoc in other sports, as well. In the NHL, Sandis Ozolinsh was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2003 but was traded to the Mighty Ducks -- a team in the Western Conference -- a few days prior to the All-Star Game. He ended up playing for the East and wearing an Eastern Conference jersey, but his left shoulder, which would ordinarily have featured the logo of his then-current team was blank. He also skipped the skills competition and was fined by the league because he would have had to wear a Panthers jersey, which he thought was inappropriate given that he'd been dealt to the Mighty Ducks.
Earlier, in 1990, Bernie Nicholls was traded from the Kings (Campbell Conference) to the Rangers (Wales Conference) one day before the All-Star game. He suited up for the Campbell squad.
All-Star Helmet Mix-Ups Revisited
Last year around this time we explored the recurring phenomenon of players wearing another team's batting helmet during the All-Star Game. This has usually involved pitchers who never expected to come up to bat in the first place and had to scramble to grab whatever helmet was available (this was back when pitchers still came to bat in the All-Star Game), although plenty of non-pitchers also have been involved over the years. As of a year ago, we had chronicled 20 examples, all of which you can see here.
In the 12 months since, several more examples have come to light, as follows:
• 1965: Giants pitcher Juan Marichal came to bat wearing a Milwaukee Braves helmet.
• 1969: Sal Bando of the A's wore a Senators helmet. (Bando's teammate Reggie Jackson reportedly did the same, but visual documentation is currently lacking.)
• 1972: Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman wore a Cubs helmet.
• 1976: Mets pitcher Tom Seaver wore a Dodgers helmet.
• 1979: Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey must have forgotten his helmet and borrowed one from another team, because whatever he was wearing was clearly spray-painted. That year's All-Star Game was played in Seattle, so there was probably a Mariners helmet lurking underneath that paint job.
• 1981: Joel Youngblood of the Mets wore Bruce Benedict's Braves helmet. (The green ribbon is something the Braves wore in '81 in response to the serial killings of black residents in Atlanta at the time.)
And there's more. There were two All-Star Games in 1962 (yes, that sounds odd now, but it was the norm for a few seasons), and Uni Watch has it on good authority that Orioles first baseman Jim Gentile wore a Yankees helmet in one of them, and that Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale wore a Pirates helmet in the one played on July 10. If anyone out there can provide visual substantiation, or if you have any additional examples of All-Star helmet mix-ups, you know what to do.
Finally, there's this: In the 1975 All-Star Game, Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski came to bat wearing no helmet at all. If you look at video of his at-bat (2:14:08), it appears that he gestured to his cap while saying something to the ump. Was he wearing one of those old-style protective inserts under the cap? Efforts to reach Yaz have so far been unsuccessful -- stay tuned.
(Special thanks to Charles Eldridge, Mike Engle, Tony Panzarella and Jerry Wolper for their research assistance.)
Paul Lukas thinks Jeff Samardzija should wear an A's-Cubs frankenjersey for the All-Star Game. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.