Okajima finished with more than 4.4 million votes to close this one out ahead of Jeremy Bonderman of the Tigers, Pat Neshek of the Twins, Kelvim Escobar of the Angels and Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays. Boston thus becomes the first team to win the Final Vote three times, following victories by outfielder Johnny Damon in 2002 and catcher Jason Varitek in 2003.
"I appreciate all the people who voted for me," Okajima said through translator Jeff Yamaguchi. "American baseball fans and Japanese baseball fans, teammates, everybody. Big thanks to all the people who supported me."
Okajima joins a Red Sox All-Star contingent that includes David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon. Anyone last spring would have been hard-pressed to imagine that a Red Sox pitcher just acquired from Japan would be an All-Star and his name would not be Daisuke Matsuzaka, a 10-game winner.
"You look at the numbers and it should be a no-brainer," said Beckett of Okajima. "He belongs on that team. The only reason he wasn't on that team before was because he's not a closer all the time. It's tough for those middle guys to get on there. It's well deserved."
Nearly a million of the total votes were cast on mobile phones, another key emerging characteristic of the Final Vote. Fans who were away from their computers during the holiday portion of the voting period were able to vote from anywhere there was signal strength, and many fans voted at ballparks wherever there was a candidate whose home team was prompting them on the giant scoreboard.