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Ford's All-Star hopes alive
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07/04/2004  7:45 PM ET
Ford's All-Star hopes alive
Outfielder among five AL picks for Final Vote
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Lew Ford finished in fourth place in the All-Star Final Vote. (Jim Mone/AP)

PHOENIX -- Because he began the season in Triple-A, Twins outfielder Lew Ford was not on this year's All-Star ballot.

On Sunday, Ford's chances for election to the game improved.

That's because he was among five American League players selected to be part the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote.

"It's just a great feeling just to be one of the five that fans are going to select, whatever happens," Ford said. "It's something that might not happen again. I'm very happy."

Now in its third year, the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final position player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday night's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The winners will be announced at 8 p.m. CT exclusively on MLB.com and will then be added to the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters.

2004 Final Vote

American League winner:
Hideki Matsui, Yankees

AL candidates:
(in order of finish):
• Frank Thomas, White Sox
• Paul Konerko, White Sox
• Lew Ford, Twins
• Travis Hafner, Indians

National League winner:
Bobby Abreu, Phillies

NL candidates
(in order of finish):

• Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
• Steve Finley, D-Backs
• Jason Kendall, Pirates
• Juan Pierre, Marlins

All-Star rosters

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and 32nd man, will have yet another opportunity to make themselves heard with the return of the Ameriquest All-Star Game MVP Vote. Beginning in the sixth inning of the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 13, fans can cast their vote for the player they believe deserves to win the Ted Williams Award for being the game's Most Valuable Player. The fan vote counts for 20 percent of the decision on which player wins the award, with the media accounting for the other 80 percent.

Joining Ford on the second-chance ballot are the Indians' Travis Hafner, the Yankees' Hideki Matsui, and Paul Konerko and Frank Thomas from the White Sox.

"Hopefully, Minnesota fans can stuff the ballots like the rest of these cities do and get Lew-Lew in there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Ford has been a pleasant surprise and a quick fan favorite during a season marred with injuries and inconsistent hitting up and down the starting lineup. An injury to center fielder Torii Hunter warranted Ford's recall from Rochester on April 9.

His play on both sides of the game earned him the right to stay.

"That's a huge thing for him," Gardenhire said. "We're excited for him. Hopefully, it'll work out for him to get voted in -- it's tough. Just to get named like that is pretty good. We're happy for Lew-Lew."

The 27-year-old Ford leads the Twins in batting average and is among the team leaders in home runs and RBIs. After Hunter returned, he remained in the lineup playing different outfield positions and served as the DH.

Since Shannon Stewart went down May 18, Ford has become Minnesota's regular left fielder.

"He's taken advantage of the opportunity he was given here," Twins hitting coach Scott Ullger said earlier this season. "It's hard not to get him in the lineup every day. He's really a basic hitter. He sees the ball and attacks it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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