By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For FOX Deportes
Don Mattingly remembers the shoes.
Before becoming a six-time All-Star himself, Mattingly would watch whenever the game of major-league baseball stars was on TV, and he’d see the players wearing black shoes.
Back then, players wore white shoes during the season. But they would wear whatever shoes they wanted at the All-Star Game.
Mattingly, now the Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager, reflected on his All-Star Game experiences last weekend before the league broke away for time off this week.
“I just think every kid wants to be in the All-Star Game, right?” Mattingly said. “I think guys are excited. Now, you see the guys that make it 10 straight years, those guys probably aren’t quite as excited about it. But if you’re making the All-Star team, it tells you you’re part of the elite.”
In 1984 as a New York Yankee, Mattingly went to his first All-Star Game. His teammate was hitting machine Rod Carew of the California Angels. Mattingly was such a fan that he sought out Carew’s autograph, and Mattingly feels that the All-Star Game is the proper environment to do just that: Young stars approaching their favorite players and getting some memorabilia.
“Carew gave me a bat,” Mattingly said. “That was kind of like my guy growing up. He must have read about it or something.”
Mattingly still has the bat. That’s the joy of being an All-Star, he said. Moments like when you get to meet your idols and heroes.
“How many of these kids today were Chipper Jones fans? It’s such a big deal,” Mattingly said.
Bobby Abreu is a two-time All-Star who always enjoyed spending time with the other players as part of his All-Star experiences.
“When you play against them, you don’t really know them very much,” Abreu said. “So it’s a time to know them more.”
Abreu is glad the game has meaning – the winning league between the AL and NL gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
“That’s what you want,” he said. “It’s very important.”
Abreu’s Dodgers teammate, Andre Ethier, went back to his hometown of Phoenix to play in the All-Star Game last summer.
“It’s what you dream about as a kid, to get a chance to go a game,” Ethier, a two-time All-Star, said.
Ethier was on the winning team, the NL, in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s definitely made it exciting,” Ethier said. “It was fun to have that bragging right. You can see how it’s benefitted the National League with two World Series (wins) two years in a row.”