Baseball fans had the final say and participated in the Final Vote in record numbers, putting Milwaukee right fielder Corey Hart and Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria into the All-Star Game as voting ended Thursday afternoon.
Brewers fans, who pushed left fielder Ryan Braun to a starting role, turned out in droves as Hart received nearly 8 million votes to edge David Wright of the New York Mets for the coveted spot on the National League's roster. Houston's Carlos Lee, Philadelphia's Pat Burrell and San Francisco's Aaron Rowand rounded out the five candidates.
Statistically, all five NL competitors couldn't have been much closer entering Thursday's action.
Hart had 14 homers and 56 RBIs compared to 17 and 70, respectively, for Wright. The Mets' third baseman had a higher on-base percentage, but Hart had more stolen bases and they had the same slugging percentage.
Lee and Burrell had more homers, but Hart's .293 average equaled Lee's and was better than Burrell's .279.
Nonetheless, the small-market Milwaukee fans won this competition for Hart, who will join Braun and pitcher Ben Sheets at Yankee Stadium for Tuesday's annual showcase.
"It was a bit of a distraction to be honest," Hart said after Thursday's 11-1 victory over Colorado. "I voted a few times, but I think my wife voted nonstop for four days."