By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck
"July 30, 1949, my 15th birthday, my mother took me to Yankee Stadium for the first time. It started a long trail of memories about Yankee Stadium. It is the most famous sports cathedral in the world." Bud Selig, commissioner.
I wasn’t there so why do I feel as washed out as if I had been?
Just so you know, the American League won, 5-4 in 15 innings.
The game ended at 1:37 am. The game lasted the 4-hour and 50-minutes. If it were up to Fox, this would be the last generation of baseball fans as they never let kids see any of the showcase events. A real commissioner would put a stop to these late starts
Every, every, I mean every available player on each roster was used. “We ended up getting everybody in (the game), huh?'' National League manager Clint Hurdle said. Added AL manager Terry Francona: “It wasn't a whole lot of fun (to manage). Later on, I started to have panic attacks. (Major League Baseball official) Jimmie Lee Solomon came in the dugout at one point to check on things, and I asked him if he could pitch.''
As exhausted and as stressed as managers Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle were, nobody was more relieved that there was an ending than commissioner Bud Selig because what would have happened if the two pitchers on the mound, for the AL Scott Kazmir, and Brad Lidge for the NL, had reached their limit? I expected to see Whitey Ford and Bob Gibson warming up.
Speaking of the Hall of Famers, I can’t imagine that anybody is going to be able to top the magnificent introduction which saw 49 Hall of Famers taking their positions on the field before the game and joined by the current starters for each position from each league. It was amazing.
Note to Fox TV, we don’t need to see shots of crowds cheering, we can hear that. We needed to see the interactions between the current All-Stars and the Hall of Famers.
Willie Mays really looked annoyed by the whole thing. I think he’s still ticked off that he’s not introduced as “Baseball’s greatest living player,” a title that has not been used since the passing of Joe D.
I almost expected a cooler to brought out and introduced as the return of Ted Williams.
Yankee Stadium has been looking its age, but the grande dame looked magnificent last night and no other venue will be able to equal the shots of the City (okay, maybe the new Citibank Mets stadium will).
I’m not a big fan of the singing of “God Bless America” or Josh Groban, but his rendition last night was amazing.
Poor Dan Uggla. In the 10th inning, the Florida second baseman Dan Uggla made back-to-back errors, but Colorado’s Aaron Cook survived the bases loaded, nobody out jam, thanks to three straight ground outs. ''I just wanted to thank Cooky,'' Uggla said. ``I can't say enough about how he got out of that inning.''
But Uggla’s night probably was the worst in All-Star Game history. He had three errors, three strikeouts (once with sacks full), and hit into one double play (in the 9th with runners at first and third). ''I'm fine. The only thing that [ticks] me off is we didn't win the game,'' Uggla said. ``I was never down. You shake it off. There was no reason it happened. I put my glove down and didn't make the play. It seems like when it rains it pours, and it was that way for me tonight.” Said NL manager Clint Hurdle: ``My heart goes out to [Uggla]. He's such a good player.''
There were more Marlins managers on the field than from any other club. Jim Leyland and Joe Girardi were coaches for the AL.
The American League started the game with two Yankees on the left side of the infield, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter, and two Red Sox on the right, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis at first. “Pretty different, huh?” Pedroia said. “I think me and Youk are guys that just want to win. That’s it. And the other two, that’s what they want to do, too, but they’re superstars. Me and Youk are guys that grind it out. We like to get dirty, and we’re trying to do anything we can to help our team win because we have to. We’re talented, but we’re definitely not as talented as the other two guys on the other side of the infield, so we got to do other things to make up for that.”
Highlight play came from Pittsburgh center fielder Nate McLouth who cut down the potential winning run at the plate by grabbing Michael Young’s 11th-inning single and throwing on the money to Dodgers catcher Russell Martin who tagged out Tampa Bay’s Dioner Navarro.
Miguel Tejada made a charging, flying throw to get Morneau on a slow grounder and save Aaron Cook to end the Dan Ugly inning. "I had a blast," Cook said. "This is something a lot of people are going to remember for a long time, the last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium."
Terry Francona was as terrific and classy on the national stage as he is in Boston. He took Jeter and A-Rod out of the game in the middle of innings so that the local crowd could show their love. He used Mariano perfectly (hopefully Terry will have a little talk with Paplebon about discretion being the better part of valor).
Baseball is lucky to have this brilliant communicator in such a prominent role. “I can’t say enough about how great Terry has been through this whole thing,” Yankee manager Joe Girardi said.
Joakim Soria, the closer for the Royals was 11 years old the day Mariano Rivera got his first save.
America’s new hero, former drug-addict and current Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton, went 1-for-3 with a single and a he stole a base. Texas’ Milton Bradley and Ian Kinsler also each stole a base. The three stolen bases are more than Rangers players have recorded in all their previous All-Star appearances. Bradley was also picked off and Kinsler was also caught stealing.
"All my pals were going into the game," said Phillies closer Brad Lidge. "I was literally the last man standing. It was the bullpen coach, the catcher and me." Lidge warmed up six different times over the last two hours of the game anticipating the need to be the closer.
"I didn't know what to think," said Francona's last pitcher, Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir. "I was just playing around and trying to find some way to stay sane."
Francona was asked post-game if he had a specific number of pitches that Kazmir, his last pitcher could pitch, Francona said, “It wasn’t the number of pitches, it was hours.”
The game was scoreless through four innings -- the first time that had happened in an All-Star Game since 1990. Colorado's Matt Holliday homered off Los Angeles Angels pitcher Ervin Santana to lead off the 5th, and Houston's Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly brought home Hanley Ramirez to lift the NL to a 2-0 lead in the 6th.
J.D. Drew, hit a two-run homer in his first All-Star at-bat to knot the score at 2-2 in the 7th and, was named the game's MVP. He went 2 for 4. Drew lined a 95 mph pitch from Cincinnati Reds Cy Young candidate Edinson Volquez just over the right field wall for a game-tying shot. It marked the first time since David Ortiz in 2004 that an AL participant homered in his first at-bat as an All-Star.
"I've always had confidence and ability," said Drew, who became the 15th player to hit a home run in his first All-Star at-bat. "It's been a nice little run; we've still got a long ways to go. But this is definitely a good night." I simply don’t like him.
The National League went ahead 3-2 in the 8th on Adrian Gonzalez's sacrifice fly, but the AL got the run back in the bottom of the inning on Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria's RBI ground-rule double.
A very tired Brad Lidge came into the game in the 15th and gave up a Morneau single, a line-drive out, a Dioner Navarro single, an eight-pitch walk to Drew and that game-winning sac fly to Michael Young. Young’s sacrifice fly brought in Justin Morneau with the winning run in the 15th. Catcher Brian McCann gloved the ball and tried a sweep tag, but Morneau sneaked his right foot in, barely ahead of the tag. “At that point, the game’s about 5 1/2 hours old,” Morneau said. “Your legs aren’t exactly feeling great. I had just enough in the tank.”
Young is becoming an ASG drama specialist. It was Young who got a 9th inning, go-ahead triple off Trevor Hoffman in 2006 at Pittsburgh.
The AL left the potential winning run at third base in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. Uggla twice stranded what would have been the go-ahead run on third.
The NL loaded the bases with one out in the 12th before Kansas City's Joakim Soria struck out Uggla, and Baltimore's George Sherrill fanned Adrian Gonzalez. Sherrill was outstanding, my choice for MVP. Sherrill retired seven of the eight batters he faced. The only one that reached was New York Mets third baseman David Wright on a broken-bat single. "It was just a matter of going out, putting up zeroes and giving us a chance to win and keeping [Kazmir] out of the game," Sherrill said. "But 15 innings? What are you going to do?"
"It was fun," said Orioles closer George Sherrill, who pitched a game-high 2 1/3 innings, which tied his big-league career high. "A great stadium and a really good way to send it out."
Drew was presented with a large, white SUV for winning an award named after Red Sox legend Ted Williams. It should be named after Stan Musial.
It was the second walk-off win for the AL in All-Star history. The other came in 1941, when Ted Williams hit a three-run homer off Claude Passeau at Tiger Stadium.
THE HALL OF FAME CONTINGENT
Hank Aaron, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Yogi Berra, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Orlando Cepeda, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Reggie Jackson, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Lee McPhail Jr., Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Paul Moiltor, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, Earl Weaver, Billy Williams, Dick Williams, Dave Winfield, and Robin Yount.
Berra, Ford, Jackson and Gossage threw out the ceremonial first pitches to Jeter, Alex Rodriguez,Mariano Rivera and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
It’s getting sadder and sadder to see George Steinbrenner. Looking sickly and in tears, he entered in a golf cart and brought in baseballs for the ceremonial first pitch. It was his first appearance at the Stadium since Opening Day.
Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall of Fame as does long-time announcer Bob Sheppard, the voice of the Yankees since 1951, who is ailing and wasn’t there but was given a long ovation.
There was a moment of silence for Yankee great Bobby Murcer, who died earlier this week.
J.D. Drew and David Wright
"I've been in a lot off one-inning situations this year, so I'm not sure how long I could have gone," said Brad Lidge. "I know nobody would have wanted to start marching position players out there to decide who has home-field advantage in the World Series."
"I spoke to David Wright," said Hurdle. "I told David, `You were the last pick [on the roster]. I went and got you. Have you ever pitched in an All-Star Game?' I said, `You wanted to be in this thing. That's all I've read, all I've heard, for the last three days. Well, you won't believe how much you might be in it here real quick.'"
"I told him I was ready," Wright said. "I was just hoping to get one out, so I'd have an ERA in the All-Star Game."
"Another couple of innings, and he (Drew) would have pitched," Francona said.
"As [the situation] started to come to fruition," Drew said. "I was a little bit nervous."
Justin Morneau said. “It’s a good thing we won it when we did. Nobody wanted to see me pitch, I know that.”
DID YOU KNOW?
The greatest crowd for any event at Yankee Stadium was for a Jehovah's Witness convention in the 1950s that brought 123,707 people through the gates on a single day.
AARON ON THE STADIUM
"That's why I'm here, because it's played in Yankee Stadium," Hank Aaron said. "I don't know that I would have come if it was played in any other place. But being in New York City and playing in Yankee Stadium for the last time, I felt I needed to be here, to be part of this."
"You think about Lou Gehrig making his famous speech," Aaron said. "You think about Babe Ruth hitting all those home runs, and Mickey Mantle and all the glorious years they've had here. The new ballpark is going to have its own memories, but this ballpark here is something that I think, you're just not going to forget about it."
BY THE NUMBERS
- There were 16 runners stranded in scoring position with two outs.
- The AL and NL pitchers combined for a record 34 strikeouts.
- It was the longest game ever (290 minutes).
- It set a record for the most runners left on base ever (28).
- There were a record number of players used (63) and a record number of pitchers used (23 – 12 for the AL).
- The NL is now 10-1-1 in extra-inning ASG
- The NL is now 0-11-1 in the last 12 ASG
- The AL is now 6-0 since the All-Star game began determining homefield advantage in the World Series.
- The NL still leads 40-37-2 overall.
"In the last two hours, it wasn't a whole lot of fun," AL manager Terry Francona said. How stressful was it Terry? "I have acne on my forehead," he replied. I love the man.
"This stadium deserves the attention," said Jeter. "This stadium deserves this sort of going-away party." "It seemed like the Stadium didn't want the game to end," Jeter said. "It was a great game, but I wish it had ended a little earlier."
''It was crazy, but it was a fitting ending for the last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium,'' said Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who struck out the side in the 9th to send the game to extra innings. ``It's a game no one will forget.''
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com (www.Billy-Ball.com) and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller, published by ACTA Sports, and available worldwide. Autographed first editions are available by contacting, Bill@billy-ball.com or order directly from Acta Sports or from your favorite bookstore.