PHOENIX -- The last time the All-Star Game was played in Seattle, D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll was not yet 1 year old.
Now, 22 years later, the game will return to the Pacific Northwest and Carroll will be in the starting lineup for the National League, a dream come true for the Seattle native, who grew up attending Mariners games with his parents and idolizing Ichiro Suzuki.
Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was the top vote-getter among all NL players in Phase 1 of the voting, and in Phase 2, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts (34%) and Carroll (30%) easily outdistanced Atlanta’s Michael Harris II (19%) and Arizona’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (16%) for the other two starting spots.
“It’s really cool,” Carroll said. “One of my goals was to be at this game, and to be starting, it is just that much more of a cherry on top. [There was] a lot of hard work from a lot of people within this organization, supportive friends and family. It’s cool to be able to do it for them.”
Carroll got the news while sitting on a chair in the D-backs' clubhouse watching the ESPN broadcast. When the announcement was made, his teammates stood and cheered, and one by one, they came over to congratulate him and give him a hug.
“I don't think you could really dream of anything more than that, right?" Carroll said. "To have your first All-Star Game in the city you grew up in, at the stadium you grew up going to, it’s very exciting to think about.”
Carroll, who has the baseball world buzzing during his rookie season, has great memories of those early visits to the ballpark to watch the Mariners.
“We’d walk along the pier to a game with dad or mom,” Carroll said. “Sometimes take those little electric scooters. Just all good memories. It doesn’t feel like too long ago.”
This time, instead of scooters or a walk by the pier, Carroll will ride along a red carpet to the ballpark, and he will also get to hang out with some of the best players in the game. It’s an opportunity he plans to make the most of.
“Just seeing how these guys operate, see how they tick, I think that's going to be pretty cool,” Carroll said. “There's obviously so much talent in this game right now and the game is just in such a healthy spot.”
Carroll is part of that talent in the game. The odds-on favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, he entered play Thursday with the second-best bWAR in the Majors (3.9), trailing only Acuña (4.6).
What makes Carroll’s accomplishments all the more remarkable is that he was a first-round Draft pick out of high school in 2020, who -- due to the pandemic and then injury -- played just 142 Minor League games before being called to the big leagues on Aug. 29 last season.
Carroll has a rare power/speed combination. He has 17 home runs to go along with 24 stolen bases in 26 attempts. That has led him to being a fan favorite in Arizona and someone who baseball fans everywhere have begun to watch.
“If you’re a baseball fan and not aware of the great things this kid is doing, you must be living under a rock,” D-backs ace Zac Gallen recently said of Carroll.
Carroll becomes the 24th Major League rookie since 1936 and the 10th NL rookie since '48 to start an All-Star Game.
It’s the first time a rookie has started an All-Star Game since Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge did so in 2017. The last NL rookie to start an All-Star Game was Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, who was in the starting lineup in '15 as a replacement for Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday.
Carroll is the sixth fan-elected starter in Arizona franchise history, joining second baseman Ketel Marte (2019), first baseman Paul Goldschmidt ('14-15), center fielder Luis Gonzalez ('01), second baseman Jay Bell (1999) and third baseman Matt Williams ('99).