Cathedral draws respect from All-Stars
Players wax poetic on final Midsummer Classic at stadium
NEW YORK -- During the All-Star media-availability session at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan on Monday, the players in attendance were all asked what it meant to them to be playing in the final Midsummer Classic at fabled Yankee Stadium.
Here's what they had to say:
Joakim Soria, Royals: "It's really special. It's a big city, a big stadium, and this is the last one. I just feel happy that I'm here."
David Wright, Mets: "That building's been around a lot longer than any of us, and it's going to continue to have the history. It's going to continue to be the star of really any show. You talk about winning world championships, and you think of, obviously, the Yankees. You think of Yankee Stadium. It's a pleasure to be there, and it should be the star of the show. ... It's extremely special. I've said all along that I wanted to be part of this. I've made it no secret. I wanted to wear that National League uniform at Yankee Stadium. I'm getting that opportunity. It's what you dream about, being a New York athlete. You want to be involved at an All-Star Game in New York at Yankee Stadium. Just the history and the legends that have taken that field and been in that same clubhouse as you is special."
Billy Wagner, Mets: "It doesn't get any better. You're in the spotlight. This is the ultimate place to play, the biggest arena. To be in Yankee Stadium and have that opportunity, that's just fitting."
Joe Mauer, Twins: "It's the people that have played there that makes it so special. It's a pretty amazing feeling that you're out there on the field that these guys played on."
Joe Nathan, Twins: "This stadium has been around for a while and has a big part of baseball history. The players here are just a small part [of the All-Star Game]. It's the stadium that is going to be the main attraction. ... The thing that really sticks out is entering the field for the first time and getting those chills and those goose bumps. What's different about this stadium is that you don't see the field until you get through the tunnels. That's the one thing I remember."
Nate McLouth, Pirates: "An All-Star Game is always great, but you throw in the fact that it's at Yankee Stadium in its last year, and that makes it that much better. That's kind of a magical place when you're talking in terms of baseball. I expect it's going to be a great event. Something that's going to last a lifetime, memories that I'm going to remember forever."
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks: "Yankee Stadium has been a part of my family's life. My Dad tells the story about listening to games on a transistor radio. He grew up in New York -- Washington Heights -- and he said he could listen to the game on the radio and he could look outside his window and see the lights of the stadium. My grandfather, he ran the train that kind of goes right by Yankee Stadium. My family started in New York. My parents met here, both my grandparents lived here for a long time, and my sister went to Columbia. ... When you step on the mound at Yankee Stadium you kind of think of who has been on that mound. The first time I warmed up in the bullpen at Yankee Stadium, I thought about the people that had warmed up there. ... I think every player thought that [this] would be a fun All-Star Game. The buzz in the city just when we traveled there to play the Mets, we saw a lot of signs and stuff and read a lot about ticket prices and hotels out there. It's going to be crazy, but New York's crazy as it is, so I can't imagine."
Brandon Webb: "I wanted to make this because I thought this was going to be pretty special being in New York the last year of Yankee Stadium. So it was kind of a goal of mine to make even when I first heard about it last year, probably about this time, that it was going to be in Yankee Stadium. Just to be able to make it and represent the Diamondbacks and the National League there in Yankee Stadium. It's going to be a madhouse, it's going to be fun."
Joe Crede, White Sox: "Knowing the guys and the players who have played here before you, from Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, it's a great honor. And anytime you come to play at Yankee Stadium, it's always fun. Because you're out there playing and you think of all the things that have happened, the World Series that have happened there in the past, and the players, the monuments in the outfield. There's a lot of nostalgia in the park. It's neat to be a part of. ... This is an event where I'm going to get my family involved and my little girls, so that when they grow old they can say they've been here and were able to experience the All-Star experience [at Yankee Stadium] with me."
Lance Berkman, Astros: "Obviously the historical aspect of it is neat, to think you're on the same field as so many great players that played on it -- Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, others. But as a player, you appreciate those things more after your career is over with than when you're actually here. ... I love the historical part of baseball. I think that separates baseball from a lot of other sports, its ties to our past. I have a great deal of respect for the game and the history of the game. From that aspect, it's always neat to say, 'Well I was there, I got to play on the field.' But it's something I'll take more satisfaction from 20 years from now."
Scott Kazmir, Rays: "It's just so historic. You have so many legends that have played there. It's just an honor to step on the field. You kind of feel something when you step on the field and look around. It feels like a coliseum. It's a great feeling to have, when you're on the field with these fans, who are so passionate."
Evan Longoria, Rays: "When I look back and think about this day in the next 10 years, the rest of my life, it's going to be awesome. They're going to run a ton of Hall of Famers out there, too, on the field, and we're going to be able to be on the field with them. I can't wait to get out there."
Edinson Volquez, Reds: "This game Tuesday is going to be remembered forever. This is going to be the last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. I think it's going to be great. A lot of people are going to be excited."
Chipper Jones, Braves: "It's awesome. I've had a blast. I think it's a lot more about the experiences of playing there, and sometimes that's a distraction to the players who get caught up in the glamour of walking out on the field. You can play a four-hour game out there and it feels like you're out there for 45 minutes. Time flies when you're having fun. There have been some really high moments -- I can think of a couple of World Series hits that I'll never forget -- and I can think of a couple that went against us. I was left standing on deck in '96 when Charlie Hayes caught Mark Lemke's popup [to end it]. There are a lot of cool things both ways."
Dan Uggla, Marlins: "Every player dreams about coming here. I'm excited about everything, seeing the stadium fill up, seeing the flashing bulbs."
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: "Without question, it's front and center of any story in the next few days. It's one of the national treasures of the world, I think. It's the greatest venue in the world -- there's so much history that's gone on there. If I was a fan, I'd be coming to watch the players, but more importantly I'd be coming to see the stadium one last time."
Derek Jeter, Yankees: "This is something that's pretty special, all being here with a celebration of the last year of Yankee Stadium. This is the one All-Star Game that we all wanted to play in. This is the one I wanted to play in, the one I was looking forward to the most. Just being here, the game, you can take it out of it. Being around the atmosphere and being around all of the Hall of Famers, this is really something I'm going to remember."
Joe Girardi, Yankees manager/AL All-Star coach: "I can remember just walking down the stairs to get to the hallway and get to the Yankees clubhouse, and thinking, 'Wow, this is really kind of neat.' You think about the people that had done the exact same thing you had done, just all of the great players. ... Walking into the clubhouse and seeing the pictures and seeing Thurman [Munson]'s locker, it's really an unbelievable experience. Walking the tunnel into the dugout, you think that Yogi walked there, and Mickey. It's really like you're in baseball heaven."
Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals: "It's possibly going to be the most historic one ever. We're talking about probably the most historic stadium ever -- in the world. And the biggest city in America. I think it's going to be unreal. It's going to be something I'm going to be able to tell my kids and my grandkids. It's pretty exciting."
Aaron Cook, Rockies: "I just think it's going to be an incredible feeling, to go out there for an All-Star Game, the last All-Star Game played in Yankee Stadium. I think it definitely does add something to it. I think you can't take away from being an All-Star, no matter where it's at. But to be in Yankee Stadium -- Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, to go down the list of players that played here and what they were able to accomplish, I definitely think it's going to mean a lot to be able to be out there and play on the field.
Matt Holliday, Rockies: "The All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in the last year, I think, is probably something everybody in this room is extremely excited about."
Milton Bradley, Rangers: "It's definitely special. If someone said I could be invited to the All-Star Game but had to shine shoes, I'd be shining shoes now. So at least I'd have a foot in the door. You want to be part of the celebration."
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: "It's Yankee Stadium, the last year for the stadium. It's something special. This isn't Arizona; it's Yankee Stadium. This place has been around forever. There's so much history here. This is baseball. This is what people think about when they talk about baseball."
Michael Young, Rangers: "This is larger than all the others [I've played in]. It's Yankee Stadium and New York, where the fans are so passionate. I think this one will stand out more than the others. It'll be a blast."
Jason Varitek, Red Sox: "It's been such a fun part of my career, playing in that rivalry and playing in that stadium against these guys. It's been a huge part. ... It's a huge thing to be a part of. Fortunately we get to play some more games there through the rest of this year. When that ends and the storybook closes on this venue, you can say you've played a part of it. And it's a huge part of baseball history, whether you're a Red Sox, a Yankee or not. It's the biggest star in our game -- besides Fenway."
Grady Sizemore, Indians: "You're in New York, all the greats are here, and it's a great atmosphere. There's a lot of tradition at that stadium. It's tough to see it go, but it's fun to be a part of this experience."
Justin Duchscherer, A's: "It's the history of baseball. It's awesome. It's special. I don't think I'll really understand how special until I'm out there on the field, but I know it's going to be special."
Brian Wilson, Giants: "I've always wanted to step on that mound, and to be doing it for the last All-Star Game ever played here, wow. That'd be incredible."
Tim Lincecum, Giants: "There's definitely a lot of history in that stadium, and this game is going to be a part of that history. So to be a part of it in any way is really cool."
Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs: "I know [about] Yankee Stadium before. That's famous enough. I knew that [Hideki] Matsui plays there. But I don't know about the history. I've yet to learn about it."
Kerry Wood, Cubs: "I've never been to Yankee Stadium. I've never sat in the seats. I've never sat in the dugout. I've never been here, so I'm really excited to be here and I'm really looking forward to stepping on the field and taking in all the history that comes along with Yankee Stadium. I feel like I kind of play in one of those ballparks myself, but I'm looking forward to kind of comparing the two and seeing how it compares to our place. It's one of the great ballparks of all-time. I want to go out and check out the monuments out there and really take it all in."
Lou Piniella, Cubs manager/former Yankees player and manager/NL All-Star coach: "I have a lot of great memories -- the players that I played with, the championships that we won, the old-timers games. It was great. It'll be bittersweet."
Carlos Guillen, Tigers: "It's going to be very exciting. I'm very excited already. It's going to be something special, because it's going to be the last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. To get the opportunity to play on the field and be part of the team, to do something to win a ballgame, it's going to be something special."
Ervin Santana, Angels: "The best part for me is my Mom and Dad are coming, and they've never been to Yankee Stadium. They've only seen me pitch in Anaheim. It's a great place to play. ... I know it's loud there, but I don't hear what the fans say. I don't pay attention."
Francisco Rodriguez, Angels: "When I get old, I'll be able to tell my grandkids I got my first [Major League] win in Yankee Stadium [in the 2002 AL Division Series]. That's always going to be in the back of your mind, the memory of that. Moments like that you keep; you never forget that. I've always enjoyed pitching there, the crowd, the excitement, everything about it."
Russell Martin, Dodgers: "Joe [Torre] told me to be sure to go out to center field, to Monument Park, and take time to embrace it. It's my first time ever to Yankee Stadium, and I'm really looking forward to enjoying the whole experience. It's got so much history, so much to see and experience. I can't wait to meet some of the legends who can tell me all about it."
Ryan Braun, Brewers: "It doesn't get any bigger than this. The stage doesn't get any bigger. The lights don't get any brighter. It's going to be an extremely special event. For me, there's a good chance this is the most historical event of my career as a baseball player, certainly to this point. ... I don't see any All-Star Game being bigger than this one."
George Sherrill, Orioles: "It's an honor to play at Yankee Stadium. This is a great ballpark -- a lot of history. They are bringing a lot of history here. A lot of Hall of Famers are coming for this. It will be great to rub elbows with them and maybe throw some questions out there. The best of the best is here. It's a really good way to shut the stadium down."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.