(Courtesy of Todd Radom)

July 15, 2008: American League bids farewell to Yankee Stadium with a 15-inning win in longest All-Star Game

This article was written by Cecilia Tan

2008 All-Star Game ticket (Courtesy of Todd Radom)As the construction timeline for the new Yankee Stadium emerged, speculation that New York would host the 2008 All-Star Game ran rampant. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Commissioner Bud Selig confirmed the rumors on January 31, 2007, at a press conference announcing that the 2008 midsummer classic would take place during the Stadium’s final season. Selig called Yankee Stadium “the most famous cathedral in baseball, and, I think, the most famous stadium in the world,” that day, starting a hype train that would run full speed until the game itself.1

“Plenty of All-Stars talked about a pilgrimage to Monument Park this week, the historic site … where some say the ghosts of Ruth, DiMaggio and Gehrig still reside,” enthused one pregame item.2 Before Opening Day, 3.8 million seats (of 4.4 million available) for the season had been sold, and tour attendance swelled.3 All season, Fox TV hosted polls on the top moments in Yankee Stadium history during their Saturday baseball broadcasts. “House That Ruth Built Is Game’s Biggest Star,” proclaimed one headline.4 Another agreed: “[Stars] Past and Present Gather to Bid Farewell to the Biggest Star of Them All: Yankee Stadium.”5

Of course in the “Big Apple” – as well as any time George Steinbrenner was involved – only the biggest and best would do. The “largest red carpet in history” – 95,000 square feet – covered Sixth Avenue for a parade featuring the largest number of former All-Stars ever.6 MLB and Bloomberg’s office trumpeted one million “expected” spectators at the parade. (Actual attendance appeared far lower.7) The ticket price was also the highest ever for an All-Star Game: Lower deck seats set at “$525-$725, and bleacher tickets for $150. …  And that’s the list price.”8

But news more dire than Barry Bonds’ lack of free-agent offers or players’ public gripes over the game’s effect on the World Series threatened to cast a pall over things.9 Steinbrenner had been in poor health and hadn’t attended a game all season.10 Neither had announcer Bob Sheppard, who had been too ill to call a game since September 5, 2007.11 And just days before the game, a new ghost might have joined those in Monument Park when longtime Yankee and YES announcer Bobby Murcer died from brain cancer.12

The pregame hype came with a tinge of rivalry: Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona would helm the AL squad, and speculation was rife that he might “start” Mariano Rivera. Francona quashed the rumors. “You’re expected to take a starter because that’s the [unwritten] rules you play under,” he told the media, while declining to answer whether he would go to Mo or Boston’s closer, Jonathan Papelbon, in a save situation.13

Ultimately, Steinbrenner made it to the game and played a part in the pregame pomp, delivering baseballs via golf cart to the dignitaries who would toss the ceremonial first pitches: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, and Reggie Jackson.14 They weren’t the only former All-Stars on the field. The 49 “Living Immortals of Cooperstown” – not just All-Stars but Hall of Famers – assembled at each position before the starters joined them.15

Announcer Joe Buck also went “off script” during the pregame introductions to exhort the crowd to send well wishes to Bob Sheppard.16 All told, pregame ceremonies went on so long that the first pitch didn’t take place until 8:47 P.M. After so much historic, epic buildup, how could the actual game possibly live up to the hype?

By being the longest All-Star Game in history.

When the game began, of course, no one knew it would still be going in the wee hours. Cleveland left-hander Cliff Lee started for the AL and Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Ben Sheets for the NL.

When Derek Jeter stole second base in the first inning, the cheers from the hometown crowd were lusty. But the game was a scoreless affair through four innings, parading through the lineups as steadily as a convertible up a red-carpeted avenue.

Then came a speed bump. Matt Holliday led off the fifth for the NL. Holliday was only in the starting lineup because the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano had suffered a broken hand. The AL’s fourth pitcher, the Angels’ Ervin Santana, brought 98 mph heat, but Holliday lined a fastball deep into the right-field lower deck: they call that section the “short porch,” but there was nothing short about the homer. The AL-partisan crowd grumbled a bit.

The National League added another run in the sixth, off Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer, who gave up back-to-back singles to Florida’s Hanley Ramirez and the Phillies’ Chase Utley, and then a sacrifice fly to the Astros’ Lance Berkman.17 A single by once-and-future Cardinal Albert Pujols followed, and a big inning threatened to develop. The question simmered: Could the NL finally break the AL’s 11-year unbeaten streak? But Duchscherer struck out Chipper Jones and then retired Holliday on a popup to second, limiting the damage to one run.

In the bottom of the inning, the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton led off, sending a buzz through the crowd. Hamilton, the feel-good comeback story of the year, had electrified the Stadium the night before with an epic Home Run Derby performance in which several balls reached the back row of the bleachers, with estimated travel distances of over 500 feet. Though he didn’t actually win, Hamilton’s performance remains an indelible one. Now facing Dan Haren, he singled and stole second but was stranded.

The American League didn’t give the opposition any more leash, tying the score in the bottom of the seventh. Justin Morneau – the actual Home Run Derby winner – doubled off Edinson Volquez. Volquez then got Ian Kinsler to ground out on one pitch and caught Dioner Navarro looking at strike three. To a smattering of anti-Boston boos, J.D. Drew then stepped into the batter’s box. Drew had earned Player of the Month honors in June for hitting 12 homers while filling in for the injured David Ortiz. He quickly earned cheers by lining a 2-and-1 pitch right into the first row of the short porch to tie the game, 2–2.

The leagues traded blows again in the next inning, with the NL nicking Papelbon for an unearned run on a Miguel Tejada single-stolen base-throwing error-sacrifice fly (hit by Adrian Gonzalez). The AL answered right back. With two outs, pitcher Billy Wagner came in to face Grady Sizemore, who singled, then stole yet another base, and scored on a ground-rule double from Evan Longoria. (The AL tied an ASG record with six stolen bags.18)

With the game tied 3-3 in the ninth, fans wondered if Mariano Rivera would pitch in a nonsave situation. The bullpen door swung open, but Francisco Rodriguez took the mound. He walked the leadoff man, Aramis Ramirez, then gave up a fly-ball out to Corey Hart. Then Francona called for Mo, who induced a double play from Ryan Ludwick to snuff the threat.

After Ryan Dempster struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, Francona went back to Mo for the 10th. Although he did give up two singles (to Russell Martin and Tejada), he got out of the inning with another double play. Francona had used his entire bench of hitters, but thanks to the rule adding more pitchers to the rosters – enacted after the 2002 All-Star Game ended in an 11-inning tie due to lack of arms – there were still pitchers in the bullpen … right?

Concerns simmered as the game stretched past midnight that many pitchers who had made the roster were unavailable because they had started on the Sunday before the game. NL manager Clint Hurdle was supposedly unable to tap Dempster, Brandon Webb, or Tim Lincecum, but used Dempster in the ninth and had to go to Webb for the 14th after the AL had left men at third in the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings. Meanwhile, Francona texted Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman: Could he use starter Scott Kazmir? Friedman said no – Kazmir had thrown 104 pitches that Sunday.19

A second round of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was sung in the 14th, and Francona was running out of options. After 1:00 A.M., the 15th inning arrived, and Kazmir was summoned despite the Rays’ wishes. He pitched a scoreless 15th.20

Brad Lidge took the hill for the NL. Lidge was having a stellar season, with 20 saves in 20 chances and a 1.13 ERA to that point. But Morneau singled, Navarro singled, and J.D. Drew walked to load the bases. All it would take to send everyone home would be a long fly ball, and Michael Young finally hit one to Hart in right. Morneau slid across the plate safe, just ahead of the tag, at 1:37 A.M. The game had lasted a record 4 hours, 50 minutes.

Drew was voted MVP. A record total of 63 of the 67 players on the rosters had been used, also setting records for most strikeouts (34) and runners left on (28). Longtime AP writer Ronald Blum’s postgame article summed up the epic perfectly, titling it “The Long Goodbye.”21



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.



Photo credit: All-Star Game ticket courtesy of Todd Radom.



1 Jack Curry “Yankee Stadium Gets One Last All-Star Game,” New York Times, February 1, 2007. (Accessed November 5, 2022: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/sports/baseball/01base.ready.html).

2 Associated Press, “NY on their Minds,” Ellwood City (Pennsylvania) Ledger, July 16, 2008: 9.

3 Tony Morante, Yankees former head tour guide, personal email and phone call, November 7, 2022. Tour demand in 2007 topped 100,000 visitors for the first time, and in 2008 over 150,000 took the Stadium tour.

4 Ronald Blum (Associated Press), “House That Ruth Built Is Game’s Biggest Star,” Indiana (Pennsylvania) Gazette, July 15, 2008: 15.

5 Joel Duplessis, “Yankee Stadium to Host 79th MLB All-Star Game (Cover Story),” Greenwood (South Carolina) Index-Journal, July 13, 2008: 51.

6 Duplessis.

7  “A total crowd of several thousand people could be made to look like hundreds of thousands. Even a million, if one were bold enough to make such a claim,” wrote Jim Dwyer in a sarcastic, critical article. “In All-Star Parade, Playing Games Before Ball,” New York Times, July 16, 2008. (Accessed November 7, 2022: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/16/nyregion/16about.html).

8 Scalpers were asking even higher prices, of course. Ronald Blum (Associated Press), “All-Stars Fighting for Attention in New York,” Greenwood Index-Journal, July 13, 2008: 81.

9 Ben Walker (Associated Press), “No One Wants Bonds, Slugger’s Prospects Look ‘Bleak,’” Indiana (Pennsylvania) Gazette, July 15, 2007: 16; Associated Press, “Players Rip All-Star Format,” Indiana Gazette, July 13, 2007: C-4.

10 Ronald Blum (Associated Press), “All-Star Game Site Is Rife with Memories,” Indiana Gazette, July 14, 2008: 13.

11 Steve Politi, “Bob Sheppard Not Able to Be at All-Star Game,” Newark Star-Ledger/NJ.com, July 9, 2008. (Accessed November 7, 2022: https://www.nj.com/yankees/2008/07/bob_sheppard_not_able_to_be_at.html).

12 Dan Graziano, “Bobby Murcer, 62, Dies of Brain Cancer,” Newark Star-Ledger/NJ.com, July 12, 2008. (Accessed November 7, 2022: https://www.nj.com/yankees/2008/07/bobby_murcer_62_dies_of_brain.html) In an unusual coincidence, two years later, Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner would die within two days of each other, Sheppard on July 11 and Steinbrenner on July 13, 2010.

13 Associated Press, “Don’t Expect Yankees’ Rivera to Start All-Star Game,” Huntsville (Alabama) Times, July 11, 2008. Papelbon and the other Red Sox were predictably booed during the parade and ceremonies.

14 On the receiving end of the ceremonial tosses were four current Yankees: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, and manager Joe Girardi. Girardi was also seen (without protective gear on) helping to warm up pitchers in the AL bullpen during the game.

15 National League starting pitcher Ben Sheets confessed that he was “nervous” to meet the likes of Bob Gibson, Bob Feller, and Steve Carlton, but he couldn’t miss the moment: “[I] probably should have been in the bullpen. The pregame ceremony was amazing [and] I wanted to be part of it.” Associated Press, “Hall of Intro: New, Old All-Stars Take Places,” Ellwood City (Pennsylvania) Ledger, July 16, 2008: 9.

16 MLB, “2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium,” YouTube video, streamed live on April 29, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obTBHlo6aQM.

17 The Astros were in the National League through the 2012 season.

18  “All-Stars vs. All-Stars – MLB Game Recap,” ESPN.com, July 16, 2008. (Accessed November 7, 2002: https://www.espn.com/mlb/recap/_/gameId/280715131).

19 As told to sideline reporter Ken Rosenthal and reported on the broadcast. See MLB, “2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium,” YouTube video, streamed live on April 29, 2020, timestamp 3:55-4:00, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obTBHlo6aQM.

20 The previous record for longest All-Star Game had been 1967’s: It also ran 15 innings, but the time of game was 3:41.

21 Ronald Blum (Associated Press), “The Long Goodbye,” Indiana (Pennsylvania) Gazette, July 16, 2008: 13.

Additional Stats

American League 4
National League 3
15 innings

Yankee Stadium
New York, NY


Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

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