With the Major League Baseball All-Star game set to begin at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, on Tuesday, I couldn't help but think about a few years ago when I attended the showcase event at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
It was a fun time for a country boy like myself.
Johnny Bench is listed at 6-foot-1 in height.
If the former Cincinnati Reds catcher is, then I am, too - and I'm not even 6-foot.
I stood beside Bench as he talked about Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann at the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star game at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
A couple of hours before the start of the contest, the media - and there was a lot of us from all over the world - was allowed on the field sideline to mingle with former all-star players in attendance. It was a pretty neat experience, needless to say.
We weren't supposed to ask players for autographs, but that didn't prevent some reporters from doing so. And, no, I wasn't one of them.
One former player looked so familiar, but I couldn't place him.
"Who is he?" I asked a fellow scribe next to me.
"That's Ozzie," was the reply.
Ah-ha, shortstop Ozzie Smith, I thought to myself. Now, if only he'd done one of his trademark backflips, I would've recognized him instantly. But of course he was in street clothes and not a uniform.
On the subject of trademarks, not far away from me was this guy with a cigar and fedora. His name? Bert Sugar, the boxing writer.
What's a boxing writer doing at an MLB All-Star game?
Sugar was being kidded by other scribes about this.
To bring you up to date, Sugar passed away this past March at the age of 74.
Uh-oh, who's this guy, wearing a New York Yankees away uniform, being escorted through the media crowd? Well, he really needed no introduction as that was the great Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez himself. And, he's every bit of 6-foot-plus tall.
Rodriguez, the American League's starting third baseman, was apparently going some place to be interviewed by some TV people.
Later, when the game finally got underway, A-Rod went 0-for-2.
Back on the third base side of the field, not far from me, Jim Tracy was having a conversation with another coach. Back then, Tracy was the Pirates' skipper, but in this game, he was an assistant to National League All-Star and Houston manager Phil Garner.
I've interviewed Tracy, a former Marieta College Pioneer, a couple of times in the past, and was hoping to get a comment from him on the current event.
It never happened, though.
On a current note, Tracy was dismissed by the Pirates at the end of the 2007 season, but later caught on with the Colorado Rockies where he is the manager today.
The Rockies are presently struggling a little bit as they're mired in last place in the National League West Division.
Finally, with the 2006 All-Star game fast approaching, I went to my assigned seat in press row in the upper deck on the right field side of the playing field in foul territory. The main press box behind home plate was filled up and I was part of the large overflow of media that went to this auxiliary area.
We had monitors, and everything else that we needed to compose a story.
It turned out to be a pretty good game as the American League won 3-2 on Michael Young's two-run triple in the ninth inning.
The AL's Vladimir Guerrero and the NL's David Wright each hit a home run in the contest.
All in all, it was a nice experience.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org