Celebrities, players shine on All-Star stage
Was "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm nervous to be playing in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game on Sunday?
"Yes, but not really. Because here's the thing, I am not really supposed to be good, so there is no pressure for me because I'm not a baseball player," Hamm joked.
But it wasn't all fun and games for everyone present.
"Oh, this is great," exclaimed Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. "To be in front of our home crowd with all of these people here, it's a little intimidating to be quite honest, because this isn't my craft. I am hoping to just be able to hit the ball."
"The pressure is on because, you know, last year I got a hit," said Paul DiMeo, former "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" designer and chief designer of the MLB Fan Cave. "This year, I kind of gotta make sure that happens again. My stomach isn't quite right!"
Nevertheless, DiMeo was excited to be around his teammates, like Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.
"Last year [my first year participating], I was really, really nervous because I had never done this before," DiMeo said. " And you were meeting all of these people for the first time. Now that I know everyone, I am able to say hello. It's like seeing old friends again. Ozzie came over and gave me a big hug."
He wasn't the only one who might have been feeling a little starstruck during the the All-Star festivities.
The pregame speech delivered by longtime legend Chipper Jones to his fellow National League All-Stars revealed similar overwhelming emotions.
"To sit here in a clubhouse full of this many guys that are the elite of the elite -- that's what you are, the elite of the elite -- is an honor for me to sit here and share a dugout, a clubhouse, a field with you guys," Jones said, gazing out at the legion of players, each in a different uniform, gathered in front of him.
It seemed that the All-Stars were all, quite literally, seeing stars.
"I am not looking forward to hitting any of those guys, because they are all really good," Ian Kinsler admitted prior to the game. "I would like to face R.A. Dickey ... that would be kind of cool because I used to play with him in Texas, and he's had so much success. It's pretty cool to watch."
Mike Trout seconded the motion. "I haven't seen a knuckleballer so if I face Dickey, I wanna see how it is," Trout said during batting practice.
Kinsler did not get to face Dickey, but Trout did, singling off him in the sixth inning and then stealing second base.
Joey Votto plain wasn't looking forward to it at all, Dickey or no Dickey. "None of the pitchers over there are comfortable hitting. They're a group of pitchers that I am not looking forward to facing," said Votto, who later went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the game.
David Ortiz said chatting with his opponents was great.
"You get to know them -- you pretty much see everybody from far away when you are competing, but at the end of the day, it's just a group of nice guys trying to do their job whenever they cross the [baseline on the field]," Big Papi remarked.
"I felt like I was on stage at a Broadway musical," Dickey said. "It was wild. But it was so fun. It was well worth the wait, and I was glad I got out of it without giving up a run."
It's very possible that Dickey spoke for every All-Star on the roster when he explained his emotions.
"Just being here in general has been an incredible apex to an incredible narrative," Dickey said." I don't really know how to quantify it emotionally. I'm just trying to take it in and soak it in and celebrate it with people that I'll always care about, and I've been able to do that, so it's been a real fun experience."
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.