When the Major League Baseball All-Star game is played Tuesday, Bay Area viewers might notice this rarity: no representatives from our high schools and ball fields.
Neither of the locally produced shortstops, Jimmy Rollins nor Troy Tulowitzki, was invited, and pitcher CC Sabathia is on the disabled list.
So to acknowledge the region's rich baseball tradition, we've created a 25-man All-Star team composed of players who grew up in the nine-county Bay Area. It's a deep roster -- so deep that Barry Bonds, officially the all-time home run leader, is not in the starting lineup.
Here is the lineup card, with the reserves listed on the accompanying chart:
PITCHER: Randy Johnson, Livermore High. In a field that includes two Hall of Famers (Lefty Gomez, Dennis Eckersley), as well as one of the greatest big-game pitchers of all time, Dave Stewart, Johnson earns the spot.
Want to argue the selection of a man with 303 wins and five Cy Young Awards? Take it up with the 6-foot-10 Big Unit before he enters the Hall on the first ballot in 2015.
CATCHER: Ernie Lombardi, Oakland-McClymonds. Hall of Fame (1986). Schnozz was a seven-time All-Star who also won an MVP award and two batting titles, despite being a notoriously slow runner.
He caught Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters, and such sturdiness will come in handy. He's catching all nine innings because there is no worthy No. 2 for our team.
That MVP award, by the way, was shared with our backup at first base: Keith Hernandez (San Bruno-Capuchino), a five-time All-Star with 11 Gold Gloves.
SECOND BASEMAN: Joe Morgan, Oakland-Castlemont. Hall of Fame (1990). A 10-time All-Star, including eight years in a row, he won consecutive MVP awards in 1975 and '76. Won five Gold Gloves, and, despite standing only 5-7, he led the N.L. in slugging in '76.
Of the two solid candidates behind him -- Tony Lazzeri (San Francisco-Galileo) and Billy Martin (Berkeley) -- we went with Lazzeri, a Hall of Famer and one-time All-Star with five top-20 MVP finishes who played three infield positions.
THIRD BASEMAN: Joe Cronin, San Francisco-Sacred Heart. Hall of Fame (1956). A seven-time All-Star, he had five top-10 MVP finishes, eight .300 seasons and eight 100-RBI seasons. Incidentally, he also is one of two men, along with Hal Breeden, to deliver pinch-hit homers in both ends of a doubleheader.
Cronin was primarily a shortstop, but with 69 games at third, I'm comfortable putting him there. He's backed up by Carney Lansford (Santa Clara-Wilcox), whose one batting title and one All-Star appearance more than offset the grotesquely tainted accolades of Ken Caminiti (San Jose-Leigh).
SHORTSTOP: Rollins, Alameda-Encinal. This decision was reached only after considerable internal debate: Rollins or Troy Tulowitzki (Sunnyvale-Fremont).
Jimmy's hardware (2007 N.L. MVP) made the difference. An outside candidate for the Hall, Rollins should get his 2,000th hit this season. He owns three Gold Gloves and has played in three All-Star games, though he wasn't selected in his MVP season. Tulo has two All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and two top-five MVP finishes.
LEFT FIELDER: Rickey Henderson, Oakland Tech. Hall of Fame (2009). A 10-time All-Star, with an MVP award and five more top-10 finishes in the voting, he's the all-time leader in runs and stolen bases -- and the best leadoff man ever. Said statistician/historian Bill James: "If you split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers."
This was another tough call, given the gaudy numbers and impact of Bonds (San Mateo-Serra). Career home run leader would start, though probably in right field, if not for that nagging and justifiable cloud of suspicion.
CENTER FIELDER: Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco-Galileo. Hall of Fame (1955). A 13-time All-Star, with three MVP awards and seven more top-10 finishes despite losing three years to military service. He also played on nine World Series winners.
RIGHT FIELDER: Frank Robinson, Oakland-McClymonds. Hall of Fame (1982). A 14-time All-Star and a Triple Crown winner, he won an MVP award in each league and earned 10 more top-15 finishes in the voting. His 586 homers are among the career top-10.
MANAGER: Martin. Battlin' Billy was in the mix at second base, but he was better as the skipper. The man had a searing temper but a brilliant baseball mind. I don't know how long he would have lasted with all these egos, but I'm taking him for a single game or a seven-game series.