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Two days I’ll never forget

07.15.09 at 2:53 am ET
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ST. LOUIS — So I become an American citizen and a week later I meet the President. That’s how it works for everybody, isn’t it?

Getting a chance to shake President Barack Obama’s hand prior to Tuesday night’s All-Star Game was undoubtedly the moment I’ll most remember when looking back at my third trip to the Midsummer Classic, but there was so much more than that. There always is.

Sure, I won’t forget the fact that we won the game, 4-3, especially if we find ourselves playing at home for the first game of the World Series. And I will always recall getting the chance to make the trip with my Red Sox teammates, especially first-timer Tim Wakefield. Yet, what separates these games are the little memories, such as having to catch my daughter from running on the field during the Home Run Derby. (Fortunately they were in a commercial break.)

Workout day. I run back in from the field to get sunglasses. Locker room completely empty except Ichiro stretching on the floor and his translator sitting on the chair beside him. Sow we make small talk, and I ask him where he lives in Seattle because I lived in the suburbs.

Well, I had barely got the last word out when Ichiro says something in Japanse. Then his translator turns to me, deadpanned and straight-faced and says, “I’m going to mess with your house.” The way he said it was malicious, and Ichiro is on the floor dying laughing like it was the funniest thing ever. I was just like, “OK, I’ll see you guys out there.” I didn’t know what to say. It was weird.

There was plenty more to come away with.

For example, from the time we went on the field one thing I couldn’t take my eyes off were the snipers on top of the stadium. Even in the fourth inning, I couldn’t stop looking at them because from where I was it looked like a video game, with the dark silhouette and with the sun setting. I’m thinking, “These are snipers! That’s so cool!”

Or coming to realize that they just played a recording of the Canadian National Anthem instead of having somebody come in and sing it. That seemed strange, that they couldn’t find anybody in St. Louis who knew “Oh Canada.” Morneau and I could have done it if they really needed somebody.

And then there was playing in the actual game (which was just 2 hours and 31 minutes, which is truly unbelievable). On the third pitch of my first at-bat I hit a single to center. Then I lined out to right on the first pitch I saw, in the fourth. Put it this way — you know you’re probably going to get fastballs from the best pitchers around, so you aren’t preaching patience. There’s no “Moneyballing” it in this game.

On my way out of the clubhouse at the end of the day — which I punctuated by pulling from my pocket a plastic grass ornament that my daughter hijacked from the lunch buffet — it was a great time with plenty of memories. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to do it all again next time around … even if it doesn’t mean meeting up with the President.

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