07/14/2004 8:38 PM ET
McHugh's musings: Wrapping up
Dreams really do come true. Just ask me.
By Michael McHugh / Special to MLB.com
At the end of the 75th All-Star Game, I thought about how rewarding this adventure has been for me.
I thought the Home Run Derby was something special, but to stand on the field before an All-Star Game is something else.
It wasn't just another day at the ballpark. It was standing on a field with the best players in the Majors today and legends from past years. It was seeing the celebrities that had come out, and being part of the national media covering the game. Here I was, a kid standing with the rest of them. The governor of Texas came over to me and shook my hand.
It was awesome.
The American League left with the win, and home-field advantage for the World Series. Alfonso Soriano won the All-Star Game MVP Award and Miguel Tejada was crowned Home Run King.
I finally got that one-on-one with Randy Johnson. I had written before that he was one person I hoped to be able to interview. He is as nice in person as I imagined him to be. Other greats like Eric Gagne, Manny Ramirez and Danny Graves took the time to talk with me, too. As busy as all the players were, they were all nice enough to give me a few minutes of their time or to walk over and shake my hand.
This game was just as much for kids as it was for grown-ups. The Boys and Girls Club participated in many events, and kids were everywhere. The kids brought their balls and pens, hoping for autographs from their favorite players, or their gloves, hoping to catch that home run ball.
The Houston Astros did a great job hosting this year's All-Star Game. The food was good, and they were very helpful in informing me what the schedules were.
The stadium and FanFest were walking distance to one another, so getting around was easy. One night we stayed in a hotel, and it just happened to be the same hotel as many of the players. Late at night I woke up to the loud cheers of the fans outside, who were calling out their favorite players' names as they arrived. That was how I knew Barry Bonds and I were at the same hotel, but I never did see him there. I heard the fans stayed in front of the hotel until the middle of the night.
It was so much fun to walk the streets and see all the exhibits set up around the stadium. The famous Clydesdales were hooked up to their carriage and paraded through the streets. There were musicians playing for fans on street corners. Bands played at different spots in town. T-shirt stands were everywhere. People were all dressed up in their All-Star gear and laughing and having a good time.
To me, the All-Star Game was more than just a game. It was making new friends, experiencing what it is really like to be a professional sportswriter and getting some fantastic advice from professional sportswriters like the MLB.com group, who was so nice to me and helped me every step of the way. I learned that being a professional sportswriter like these guys is fun, but not as easy as you think. I now have a different view of what it is all about. I loved the experience, and still want to be a writer.
I am thankful for the new friends I have made. I am grateful to the people who made this possible, like John Ralph and Christie Cowles of MLB.com, and the opportunity to share the love of baseball with them all.
I hope people enjoyed reading my articles as much as I enjoyed writing them. I am sad it's over, but I will never forget my All-Star experience.
Michael McHugh is a student at Friendswood (Texas) Junior High and a special contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.