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07/16/08 2:24 AM ET

Cardinals collect All-Star memories

Ludwick relishes first-time trip; Pujols awed by Hall of Famers

NEW YORK -- In his first All-Star appearance, outfielder Ryan Ludwick got a little more than he expected. He came to New York without expectations and ready to take in the celebrations of the 2008 All-Star Game.

He entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday night, taking over for Ryan Braun of Milwaukee in left field as the National League held a 2-0 advantage. It appeared he would get one or two at-bats.

And that was enough for Ludwick.

"If I get in there somehow, I'm just going to enjoy it and go for the ride," he said before the game.

Instead, as the game extended to 15 innings, Ludwick stepped to the plate three times and reached base once on a walk. But his most impressive play came on the defensive end when Ludwick made a diving catch to rob Ian Kinsler of a hit.

While Ludwick came as a first-timer, teammate Albert Pujols knew what was coming when he made the trip to New York for the All-Star Game. He'd been through it before.

Tuesday marked his seventh appearance as a member of the team and his fourth as a starter.

But Pujols didn't get a chance to step up to the plate and swing his bat in the 2007 All-Star Game. He watched from the dugout, but never made it onto the field.

So as a member of the starting lineup during this year's event, Pujols made sure he connected on his at-bats. Hitting cleanup as the designated hitter for the National League, Pujols gave his team a solid offensive effort, going 2-for-3 at the plate.

After he grounded out to kick off his night, Pujols sent a fly ball to right field for a single, but he was tagged out at second base when he tried to turn it into a double. While the play was recorded as a hit, Pujols wasn't satisfied.

In his next trip to the plate, Pujols reached first on a ground ball to center field. And this time, he stayed there. Pujols stayed in the game until David Wright of the Mets stepped in to pinch-hit in the eighth inning.

While he's been a part of his fair share of All-Star celebrations, for Pujols, the experience doesn't get old.

"The fans are going to go crazy, and that's a moment you need to enjoy when they say 'Play ball,'" Pujols said. "I'm grateful to be part of the special day today, a special moment."

Tuesday's event stood out from others Pujols has attended in part because of the historic gathering of Hall of Famers on Yankee Stadium's field prior to the game.

"To have those guys around, all those Hall of Famers, players you really admire, not just because of the great players that they were, but the great people that they are off the field," Pujols said, trailing off as spoke in admiration of those players.

He got to catch up with former third baseman Mike Schmidt, who spoke to Pujols when he was a rookie. It was a moment the Cardinals slugger never forgot.

And as Pujols added to his collection of All-Star memories, Ludwick got to start fresh in his first experience as a member of the squad. The outfielder celebrated his 30th birthday Sunday, but the real celebrations started Monday during batting practice.

"That's the most nervous I've been taking a batting practice in my entire life, but it's out of the system," Ludwick said, laughing. "My first All-Star Game, it's pretty meaningful to me. Any time you're in that type of situation it's extra special.

"[Monday] was definitely overwhelming. It was a madhouse here and I didn't expect anything else. I knew it was going to be a big-time festivity, and it's been tough to take everything in but I'm trying."

He got to ride down the streets of New York during the All-Star Red Carpet Parade on Tuesday, and Ludwick said he was pleasantly surprised to see a crowd of Cardinals fans lining the sidewalks.

"I took it all in," he said. "My wife and my mom were there with me. We were all amazed at what was going on. It was incredible with fans everywhere rooting you on."

The experience proved memorable for both Cardinals All-Stars, but despite the excitement of the game, Pujols remained unsatisfied with the end result as the American League continued its streak of dominance with a 4-3 victory.

"I think it's important to switch the gear to the National League a little bit," he said. "So people can stop talking about it."

Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.