The 57th all-star game will be a homecoming for American League starter Roger Clemens, who grew up 40 miles from the Astrodome in Katy, Tex., and attended the University of Texas.
It's a monument of another kind, too, because Tuesday night's start will mark his full recovery from shoulder surgery and his arrival as a big league star.
"I can see I'm not in Boston," he said. "I can say 'Y'all,' here. In Boston, it's, 'You guys.' I'm coming off two days rest and a tough game. But I'll just go out there, try to relax and throw as well as I can."
While he never has pitched in the Astrodome, he once attended games here when Nolan Ryan pitched because "I liked the sound the ball made hitting the catcher's mitt."
He also threw here once in 1981 when the New York Mets made him an 18-year-old draft pick. If the Mets' starting rotation is terrific this season, what would it be with a 15-2 Clemens?
"I had a chance to show my stuff at 18," he said, "and I thought I threw as hard as Tim Leary, who was throwing next to me. I threw hard, but it just didn't work out."
Clemens is leaving "about 50" tickets for the game. "It's another page in what is hopefully a storybook season for me and the Red Sox," he said.
Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden, more low-key off the field than on it, said: "It's a great honor for me to pitch against him. I've read about what he's done this season. It has been amazing. I'm really looking forward to this game."
Hassles of travel, part one: Toronto shortstop Tony Fernandez arrived, but his playing gear didn't. He borrowed pants from teammate Jesse Barfield and a glove from Kansas City's Frank White to get through today's workout.
Hassles of travel, part two: Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken arrived, but a bag of his luggage was sent to Las Vegas.
Kansas City third baseman George Brett, bothered by a sore shoulder, was taken off the AL roster this afternoon and replaced by Cleveland's Brook Jacoby . . . Likewise, Atlanta's Dale Murphy has a sore left shoulder and might play only an inning or two . . . The seven members of the Mets' traveling party were delayed at New York's LaGuardia Airport for more than six hours Sunday night and didn't arrive until 5 a.m. today.
Gooden was given permission to skip the practice . . . Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt also missed the practice, choosing to play golf at the Woodlands Country Club . . . Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees brought teammate Mike Fischlin's bat, saying, "I told Fish I wanted to get his bat in the game. He's not here, but at least his bat made it. Mike's even got his parents watching on television so when I get up and turn the barrel to the camera, everyone will be able to read his name."
Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray on the National League's dominance: "They've been having their fun at the all-star game, but we've been having fun at the World Series. I don't think it's a case of the National League having that much more talent. They have just had some breaks go their way. But that will change." . . .
Orioles General Manager Hank Peters will meet with Manager Earl Weaver and other members of the baseball staff "to see what we can do to make something out of these last 75 games," Peters said. Among the moves being considered is bringing up outfielder Jim Traber from Rochester.
Rookie Jose Canseco of the Oakland A's spent the day having some fun. He posed for pictures with Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry and he met Hank Aaron.
After delighting fans all year with long batting practice home runs, however, Canseco (23 homers, 78 RBI) flunked his first meeting with the Astrodome. He hit only one home run as the AL dropped the second annual home-run hitting contest to the NL.
He matched neither the volume of Strawberry and Angels first baseman Wally Joyner, who hit four apiece, nor the distance of Strawberry, who hit the speaker in deep right field.
If Canseco was disappointed, he did not show it. "It's something to break the ice," he said of the homer contest. "That's not an indication of how much power you have."
"It's a shame he didn't do what he can," said former White Sox executive Roland Hemond, currently working in the commissioner's office. "The first time I saw him, I thought, 'This guy has a chance to hit 500 homers.' "