ATLANTA -- There was something a bit surreal about the scene that played out at Turner Field this weekend, as 19-year-old Bryce Harper took the field opposite fellow National League Final Vote candidate, potential Hall of Famer and 40-year-old Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
The two are popular in their own ways -- Harper for the way he's burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2012, and Jones for his sustained excellence over a 19-year career in Atlanta. The two stories are sure to make for a compelling week of voting.
But Harper, who could become just the 19th player to be chosen for the All-Star Game before the age of 21 -- Angels rookie Mike Trout, 20, became the 18th when named to the American League squad Sunday -- and third to do it as a teenager, declined to dwell on the rarity of his phenom status. Instead, he marveled at Chipper's accomplishments over the third baseman's career.
"It's an accomplishment, I guess," Harper said of being considered for the Midsummer Classic. "But you've got Chipper up there, and I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to the All-Star Game in his last year. So if I was gonna make a vote, I'd vote for Chip."
Harper could join teammates Ian Desmond, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez as the largest contingent of Nationals at an All-Star Game since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.
But first, Harper has to beat out Jones, Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill and David Freese as the other NL Final Vote candidates.
According to the Orange County Register, of the 17 All-Stars before Trout to make the team before turning 21, six are in the Hall of Fame (Bob Feller, Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Jim "Catfish" Hunter and Johnny Bench), and three more have a chance to join them in Cooperstown (Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.).
Only two of those 17 -- Dwight Gooden and Feller -- were elected to the game as teenagers.
"Nineteen years old, that says it all," Gonzalez said. "Unbelievable player, unbelievable athlete. Just goes out there and works really hard every day. He wants to do the best every day. You can deeply appreciate that when he's playing behind you."
Harper and Rangers starter Yu Darvish are aiming to become just the third and fourth rookies to win the Final Vote since its inception in 2002, joining Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima in '07 and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in '08.
Now in its 11th year, the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell, and continues until Thursday at 4 p.m. EDT. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Fans can use their mobile phone to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Harper, simply text message N3 to 89269. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010. Std rates may apply.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 6-20. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 6 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Fans can also take to social media to support Harper, using the hashtag #BryceIn12.
Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, was named the NL's Rookie of the Month in May and is batting .274 with eight homers, 22 RBIs and eight stolen bases this season.
He is just the ninth player to hit as many as eight homers in a season at age 19, the last being Griffey in 1989.
"I think he's got a pretty good chance," Desmond said. "Obviously, he has fans everywhere he goes. Even though they boo him, I know they still love him. He's got a good chance. He's played his heart out so far. We don't expect anything less. I don't think anyone else should, either."
The Nationals have had a player participate in the Final Vote balloting in each of the past four seasons -- Cristian Guzman in 2009, Ryan Zimmerman in '10, Michael Morse in '11 and Harper this year. The team has never had one of its players win the contest.