07/12/05 11:45 PM ET
Family, not just Wickman, enjoys trip
Dad even gets to face batter in American League's win
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
Wickman, the closer of the Cleveland Indians, faced one batter Tuesday night in the American League's 7-5 victory. He walked Atlanta's Andruw Jones to lead off the ninth.
Of the remainder of the All-Star experience, Wickman, the closer for the Cleveland Indians, said: "It's wonderful. The kids had the opportunity to run around the field a little bit [Monday] night. We got pictures of them, it's pretty special. I think things turned out very fine with our [three] kids here. They're going to have a lot of great memories."
The All-Star Game may be a round of parties for some players, but for Wickman, it was family time. "As much as possible," he said. "It was real good opportunity to let them see the other ballplayers' kids and stuff like that. It's pretty special. They see these guys on TV. We had a chance to sit with Mike Sweeney last night and Joe Nathan, and one of the kids says: 'We're riding in the car with that Minnesota Twins guy.' Now when he comes in to pitch he'll be able to say from here on out, 'Yeah, I was hanging out with those guys on the field.' That's pretty special."
No late nights here for the Wickmans. "You've got to make sure the kids get enough sleep," Wickman said. "Monday night, we were zonked. After the home-run hitting contest, that's probably the quickest I've ever been in and out of a clubhouse. A little 15 minutes and hopped on the bus. Two of kids fell asleep in Mom's arms."
In the American League clubhouse, Wickman's All-Star locker was in the same row as Mariano Rivera. They were teammates with the Yankees, in the formative years of both of their careers.
"It's amazing to see what Mariano has done in the game," Wickman said. "I think we both learned a lot from John Wetteland, mainly challenging the batters, pitching to the situation of the game. [When] you're pitching with a two- , three-run lead, challenge them as much as you can. Guy hits a home run off you with no one on, it's only one run."
Wickman was named as a 2000 National League All-Star when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. He worked a perfect inning in that game. His selection for this game marks the fact that at age 36, after major elbow surgery, he has returned to the top ranks of closers.
"That's a huge thing," Wickman said of his selection. "I'll cherish this as much as possible. I'll never take anything for granted, just getting an opportunity to be in here with the league's best, voted on or not voted on, playing with some pretty good ballplayers, playing against some pretty good ballplayers, it's something special."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.