SAN DIEGO -- Ken Harvey was an All-American at the University of Nebraska. Now he's an All-Star for the Kansas City Royals.
Harvey, the Royals' first baseman and designated hitter, was named to the American League team Sunday by manager Joe Torre.
"This is the biggest day of my baseball career," Harvey said, "to be on the field and acknowledged with the greatest players in the game is just unbelievable. I'm almost at a loss for words."
In his second season with the Royals, Harvey has emerged as one of the AL's most consistent hitters and, for a time this season, led the league in batting average.
Informed of his selection before Sunday's game, Harvey was instructed to keep it secret. He called his girlfriend but didn't tell his mother or family members who were at the game against the San Diego Padres.
"I didn't want to tell my mother because they're here right now and they'd have probably been screaming about it the whole game so I figured I'd wait until after the game," he said.
Harvey's first All-Star selection came as he was leading the Royals' regulars with a .330 average and an on-base percentage of .378. He'd hit nine home runs, 13 doubles and has 33 RBIs.
"The last couple of weeks, my teammates and my agent have been saying I was going to go.
But I'm not like that," he said. "I wanted to wait and see. I knew I was having a good first half but (Carlos) Beltran was probably going to go if he stayed. And always (Mike) Sweeney has a chance to go every year. So
to be honest, I was just honored to be mentioned with those guys as having a chance."
After he was named, Harvey hit his 10th homer in Sunday's 7-1 loss to the Padres.
"I am very, very happy for him," said Royals manager Tony Pena, who will be an AL coach in the Midsummer Classic. "This kid is on the upside. Everybody thinks he's old but he's only 26. This guy has come a long way. One thing about Harvey is he has matured a lot and he's still young. He's going to get better and better and better with the years."
Sweeney had represented the Royals at the last four All-Star Games.
"I'm really excited for Harv," Sweeney said. "I remember the first All-Star Game I went to and the joy that I found and just how proud I was
-- where I'd come from and where I was then. And getting to play with the best ballplayers in the world is quite a thrill."
Sweeney, the team captain, was one of the first to congratulate Harvey. Naturally, the newest All-Star got a big Sweeney hug.
"I gave him a couple of pointers," Sweeney said. "I told him to make sure he brings his mom and he said he was going to, and I know how close his mom is to him. I'm really happy for Ken. It's a great thrill for him."
Batting with an unorthodox grip -- his upper hand overlaps his left hand -- the right-handed Harvey likes to plug the right-center field gap. He's beginning to pull the ball more, though, and his power numbers are expected to increase as he continues to mature as a hitter.
His all-or-nothing swing has made him a favorite with Kauffman Stadium fans.
Ken Harvey / DH
Weight: 240 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"There's no reason to get cheated," Harvey said recently. "It's hard enough to hit a round ball with a round bat. You've got three chances at it, you might as well get your money's worth. I don't have a problem with getting out if I know I didn't get cheated.
"If you get cheated and get out, what's the point? People think I have a different swing
-- I have a very opposite-field swing. It's just a fact. I'm a big dude. I've got to get everything I've got into it."
Getting everything into it has rarely been a problem for the 6-2, 240-pound Harvey. He led the nation in hitting with his .478 average for Nebraska in 1999. After being drafted in the fifth round, the Royals sent him to Single-A Spokane where he led the Northwest League with a .397 average.
In four minor league seasons, Harvey had a .328 average. Last year, as a Royals rookie, he hit
.266 in 135 games.
As a first baseman, Harvey is very nimble for a big man and has demonstrated he can dig low throws out of the dirt.
Harvey was one of three position players picked by Torre. In the Players' Vote, he received 189 votes, second to 480 for Boston first baseman David Ortiz. Harvey was not listed on the Fans' Ballot.
"This was Ken's year," Sweeney said. "He's been doing it right and playing well all year."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.