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Brewers soak in All-Star experience
07/10/2002 4:22 AM ET
MILWAUKEE -- It started so beautifully for the Brewers All-Stars, with a shower of flashbulbs as Richie Sexson stepped to the plate for a fifth-inning at-bat, and a round of applause for Jose Hernandez in the sixth -- the likes of which he's never heard.

"It was a wonderful experience," Hernandez said. "I can't compare that experience to anything else."

Hernandez could have said the same about the game's ending. With the rosters depleted, Milwaukee's first All-Star Game in 27 years was called at a 7-7 tie.

If the fans cheer as loudly Thursday when Milwaukee opens the second half against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park, Hernandez will play all night.

"I hope we see all those people cheering for us and having a good time," he said after his first All-Star experience. "On Thursday, we'd keep playing for them. We'd play whatever they want -- 13, 14, 15 innings."

When Sexson came to bat, the National League already led, 5-2, and Wisconsin native and Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Damian Miller was at third base after an RBI double and a groundout by Lance Berkman. Facing White Sox left-hander Mark Buerhle, Sexson grounded out to third base to end the fifth inning.

Hernandez had a tough night, too. The Major League strikeout leader whiffed in his first two trips and came up empty with the potential winning run at second base in the bottom of the 11th inning.

With Seattle's Freddy Garcia on the mound and Shawn Green at second base after a single and stolen base, Hernandez grounded out to third baseman Tony Batista.

Former Brewers coach Bob Melvin and the rest of the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff joined NL manager Bob Brenly at Miller Park for the All-Star Game. The last time Melvin was in Milwaukee, he interviewed for the post vacated when the Brewers fired manager Davey Lopes in April.

Melvin said he would be interested again if the position opens this fall. And he admitted that taking over in late April in a new organization would have been difficult.

"The ideal situation is when you come in, you bring your own staff and you have some time in Spring Training to evaluate, and try to create some excitement from Day 1," Melvin said. "But how can you turn down anything offered? If it's there, you've got to take it."

If he got the job, would he try to bring in Yount?

"Oh, are you kidding? That's the first guy I'd look to. But obviously, that's up to him," said Melvin of Yount, who is in his first season as the Diamondbacks first base coach. "I have to think that anybody who came in here, if they could have Robin Yount with them, it would bridge a gap to the fans.

"He's the ultimate Brewer. Deep down, he's a Brewer forever and it wouldn't surprise me that when he decides he wants to manage it would be here. If he decides he wants to manage, it's going to be a slam dunk for him. He's that good a baseball guy. He's taken to coaching just as good as he did to playing."

The job of transforming the Miller Park into baseball's field of dreams fell to Brewers head groundskeeper Gary Vanden Berg.

Vanden Berg came up with several design choices for special designs on the field for the 73rd Midsummer Classic. After consulting with officials from the Brewers and Major League Baseball, the choice featured a fan-shaped design that mimicked the roof panels atop Miller Park, and a large star in center field.

Vanden Berg said once the design was chosen, it took the grounds crew more than five hours to "stake out" the patters on the grass. It took more than two hours to make the design on the field, which was done with lawn mowers affixed with special rollers.

"Even though it looks really good, it's probably not the best way to cut your lawn," Vanden berg said. "It really lays down the grass in an unnatural way, and to make the grass stand out that much you've really got to lay it down a lot."

On the infield dirt, the grounds crew layered light-colored sand in the shape of shooting stars, and painters added All-Star Game logos in front of both dugouts and an MLB logo behind home plate. For Tuesday's All-Star Game, the players representing the Boston Red Sox unveiled a No. 9 logo in left field in honor of Ted Williams, who died last week.

The designs will remain in place through the Brewers eight-game homestand beginning Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.