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A History of Arkansas Razorbacks in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game A History of Arkansas Razorbacks in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game
How former Razorbacks have performed in the MLB’s Midsummer Classic. One of the most storied programs in college baseball, the Arkansas Razorbacks have been... A History of Arkansas Razorbacks in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game

How former Razorbacks have performed in the MLB’s Midsummer Classic.

One of the most storied programs in college baseball, the Arkansas Razorbacks have been to 10 College World Series and produced 23 All-Americans, including five players who have earned the honor twice. With 55 alumni who have gone on to play in the major leagues, it is not surprising that the Razorbacks have produced a few MLB All-Stars.

James McCann, who takes the field in his first All-Star game on July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, is the most recent. Below are the five pro Hogs who preceded him, and how they fared on the MLB All-Star game stage.

Randy Jackson

After one year at Arkansas, Jackson transferred twice to Texas Christian University (TCU) and the University of Texas. Playing both football and baseball at the collegiate level, he hit over .400 in all three of his college seasons.

Signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1947, Jackson made his major league debut in 1950. He played for the Cubs through the 1955 season and made two All-Star teams with the club.

1954

Jackson replaced starting National League third baseman Ray Jablonski late in the game and received two at-bats. Facing Chicago White Sox right-hander Bob Keegan, he grounded out to short to lead off the top of the eighth. Against another member of the White Sox, Virgil Trucks, Jackson fouled out to the catcher for the final out of the game.

Final score: AL 11, NL 9

1955

Just like the year prior, Jackson came off the bench in this game. He replaced Eddie Mathews and received his first at-bat in the bottom of the seventh. Up against Hall of Famer left-hander Whitey Ford, he lined out to center. Jackson would record his first, and only, career All-Star Game hit in the following inning. He knocked in Willie Mays with a single off Ford. The game would go to extra innings, and Jackson would get one more chance in the tenth. In his final trip to the plate in an All-Star Game, he struck out against Boston Red Sox right-hander Frank Sullivan.

Final score: NL 6, AL 5 (12 innings)

Following the 1955 season, Jackson was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played well in 1956 but suffered a knee injury in 1957 that would hamper him for the rest of his career. Jackson would play the final year of his career in 1959, splitting time between the Cleveland Indians and the Cubs.

In ten major league seasons, he slashed .261/.320/.421 with 103 home runs and 415 RBI.

Johnny Ray

A switch-hitting second baseman, Ray played for the Razorbacks in 1978 and ’79. He was drafted by the Houston Astros and traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1981. Ray was extremely reliable for the Pirates, playing at least 151 games in five of his seven seasons with the team. On August 29, 1987, Pittsburgh traded him to the California Angels. The following year, he would make his only All-Star Game appearance.

1988

The 1988 All-Star Game was held at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot, Ray lined out to left against Houston Astros left-hander Bob Knepper.

Final score: AL 2, NL 1

Ray would remain with the Angels through the 1990 season, before going to play for the Yakult Swallows in Japan for two years.

Throughout his ten major league seasons, Ray carved out a nice career for himself. He left the United States with 1,502 hits, won a Silver Slugger Award in 1983 and came in second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1982.

Tom Pagnozzi

After playing one season for the Razorbacks, Pagnozzi was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth round of the 1983 draft.

Making his debut in 1987, Pagnozzi became an everyday player in 1991. He would stick with the Cardinals until 1998. Known primarily for his defense, the Arizona native won three Gold Gloves in his career. Pagnozzi made his only NL All-Star team in 1992.

1992

With the NL All-Stars down 1-13, reserve Tom Pagnozzi pinch hit for Doug Jones (P) batting 4th. He hit a fly ball out to right field.

With the NL trailing 13-1, Pagnozzi pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth inning. Kansas City Royals right-hander Jeff Montgomery got him to flyout to right field.

Final score: AL 13, NL 6

Behold – the very definition of tomfoolery in the commercial above.

Pagnozzi announced his retirement after being released by the Cardinals in August of 1998. He left the game with a .253 career batting average and ranks among the best in Cardinals history in several defensive categories.

To this day, the 56-year-old resides in Fayetteville.

Cliff Lee

A Benton native, Lee is arguably the most accomplished Razorbacks alumnus. After pitching for Arkansas in 2000, he was selected by the Montreal Expos in the fourth round of the draft. He was traded to the Indians in 2002, in a deal involving Bartolo Colon, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore.

Lee first put himself on the map with his 2005 season. At age 26, he won 18 games and posted a 3.79 ERA for the Tribe. He struggled in 2006 and 2007 but had the best year of his career in 2008. Going 22-3, Lee led baseball in wins and was named both the AL’s Cy Young Award winner and Comeback Player of the Year.

The Indians traded Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies shortly before the trade deadline in 2009. The Phillies advanced to the World Series and, despite two wins from Lee, fell to the Yankees in six games.

Following the 2009 season, Philadelphia traded the lefty to the Seattle Mariners. Making 13 starts for the Mariners, he went 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA. Even with Lee’s dominance, the Mariners were a floundering club and traded him to the Texas Rangers about three weeks before the trade deadline. 2010 would be the second All-Star Game appearance of Lee’s career. For the second straight year, his team lost in the World Series, as the Rangers were defeated by the San Francisco Giants in five games.

A free agent after the 2010 season, Lee returned to the Phillies on a five-year/$120M deal. He would go on to make two more trips to the Midsummer Classic in 2011 and ’13.

2008

Amid his Cy Young Award season, Lee received the start for the AL in the 2008 All-Star Game. He pitched two innings of shutout baseball, allowing just one hit and recording three strikeouts. Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves was the only man to record a hit off Lee.

Final score: AL 4, NL 3 (15 innings)

2010

Lee entered the 2010 All-Star Game in the top of the fourth inning. Needing just six pitches, he threw a 1-2-3 inning. He got Martin Prado to ground out to shortstop, struck out Albert Pujols and got Ryan Howard to ground out to second base.

Final score: NL 3, AL 1

2011

In his first appearance as an NL All-Star, Lee entered the game at Chase Field in the top of the third inning. He threw a clean frame in the third but ran into some trouble in the fourth. Lee retired the first two hitters but allowed a home run to Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton followed with back-to-back singles, and Lee was lifted in favor of Tyler Clippard.

All told, he threw 1.2 innings and allowed one run on three hits.

Final score: NL 5, AL 1

2013

Making his final All-Star appearance, ol’ stone-faced Lee once again allowed a run in the 2013 edition. Pitching the top of the fifth inning, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles began the damage with a double. Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins then singled, and the AL had runners on the corners with nobody out. J.J. Hardy scored Jones by grounding into a fielder’s choice, and Lee got Mike Trout to ground into a double play to end the frame.

Lee’s final line reads: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER

Final score: AL 3, NL 0

Unfortunately, Lee’s elbow began to fail him during the 2014 season. Limited to just 13 starts, he went 4-5 with a 3.65 ERA. He missed all the 2015 season and ended up never pitching in another major league game. In 13 seasons, Lee won 143 games and retired with a 3.52 ERA. Lee will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2020.

Dallas Keuchel

A member of the Arkansas program from 2007-09, Keuchel emerged as the team’s ace in 2009. Thanks in large part to his pitching, the Razorbacks advanced to the College World Series in his final year.

Selected by the Houston Astros in the 2009 draft, Keuchel made his major league debut in 2012. He posted an ERA north of 5.00 in each of his first two seasons but started to show his promise in 2014. A finalist for the final AL roster spot in the 2014 All-Star Game, he pitched to a 2.93 ERA and won 12 games in his third season. Things really took off for the left-hander in 2015. He won 20 games, which led the AL, and struck out 216 hitters. For his efforts, Keuchel captured the AL Cy Young Award.

In addition to winning the 2017 World Series, the Tulsa, OK native won four Gold Glove Awards during his seven seasons in Houston. A vital part of the Astros’ rebuilding efforts, he made two AL All-Star teams.

2015

Keuchel started the 2015 All-Star Game and went two innings, letting up one unearned run on two hits.

Final score: AL 6, NL 3

2017

Keuchel did not make an appearance in the 2017 All-Star Game at Marlins Park.

Final score: AL 2, NL 1

Becoming a free agent after the 2018 season, Keuchel and agent Scott Boras sought a lucrative long-term contract. The offer they desired never ended up presenting itself, and he signed a one-year/$13M deal with the Braves on June 7.

James McCann

A Razorback from 2009-11, McCann is best remembered for his walk-off home run vs. LSU in 2014 in front of a Baum-Walker Stadium record crowd of 11,103.

Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2011, McCann made his MLB debut in 2014. He remained with Detroit through 2018 before he was non-tendered and became a free agent.

This looks like a decision the Tigers are regretting. McCann signed with the White Sox and will make his first career All-Star appearance in 2019. Through 58 games, the 29-year-old is slashing .319/.376/.514 with nine home runs and 28 RBI.

Future All-Star Razorbacks?

Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Tampa Bay Rays reliever Ryne Stanek could be making All-Star appearances soon.

Since debuting in 2016, the sweet-swinging Benintendi has established himself as an everyday player for the Red Sox. He posted the best numbers of his career in 2018 with 16 home runs and 87 RBI. Slashing .275/.356/.434 in 2019, it is likely only a matter of time until he gets an All-Star nod.

The poster child of the Rays “opener” strategy, Stanek is enjoying his second straight very solid season. He has appeared in 34 games in 2019, making 23 “starts.” He is posting a sub-1.15 WHIP for the second consecutive season.

One of the AL’s most valued relief pitchers, it is possible that Stanek’s versatility will be rewarded with an All-Star selection in the next couple of years.

This post is by Teddy Rydquist, who also writes about the Wolverines, Mets and NASCAR. Follow him @TeddyRydquist.

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