ARLINGTON -- Rangers center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. had the fans on their feet at Ameriquest Field in Arlington on Saturday afternoon when he leaped against the fence and took a home run away from Astros first baseman Mike Lamb. "That was unbelievable," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said, and Matthews agreed it was the best catch he has ever made. That sums up his whole first half, as Matthews has played better than he ever has in his career.
His reward was being named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday. Matthews made the team as a replacement for Toronto's Alex Rios because he was the next highest vote-getter among outfielders. He will be joined at the 77th annual All-Star Game, to be played on July 11 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, by Rangers shortstop Michael Young, who was selected by the players as a reserve for the third straight year. "It's an honor to go to the All-Star Game, and I'm just so happy for Gary," Young said. "Gary is obviously deserving -- he has had an incredible year. He's carried us the first half. All the guys around the league know he is deserving." This is the fourth straight year the Rangers have had two players selected to the All-Star Game. But, unless there is an injury, this will be the first time they haven't had a player in the American League starting lineup since 1991. But Young was happy to be voted by the players as a reserve. "That's the ultimate compliment," Young said. "When guys you play with think you belong in the game, that means a lot. There are so many talented shortstops in the league -- it's humbling that the players selected me to go." Matthews joins his father, Gary "Sarge" Matthews, who was selected to play in the 1979 All-Star Game while playing for the Atlanta Braves. "I feel so happy to have accomplished something my father did in the game," Matthews said. "People have compared us for so long even though I really never tried to live up to what he did. We're two different players. But just to be able to sit around the dinner table and say this is something I finally matched him with is great." Making the All-Star Team also is quite an accomplishment for a player who was in Spring Training with the Braves in 2004 but was released at the end of March. He was sitting on his couch on Opening Day and had to sign a Minor League contract with the Rangers just to get a job. Matthews was called up on May 25 after the Rangers were hit by a rash of injuries in the outfield. Matthews was a fourth outfielder for 2004, but then he became Texas' starting center fielder midway through the 2005 season.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.