Tony Gwynn never even considered not coming to the 1999 All-Star Game. A leg injury forced him to withdraw from the contest, but it didn't prevent him from seeing Fenway Park for the first time. It didn't prevent him from touching the Green Monster or sneaking inside the wall to add his name to baseball's most cherished autograph collection.
It also didn't prevent him from joining the pregame ceremonies that included the best players of today sharing the field with the best players of earlier eras.
When Ted Williams, tears streaming down his face, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch, Gwynn had an arm on the 80-year-old Splendid Splinter and was whispering: "I've got you."
Gwynn understood perhaps better than anyone else that Tuesday's All-Star Game will be remembered long after the American League's 4-1 victory over the National League is forgotten. Other than favorite son Pedro Martinez's electrifying two-inning, five-strikeout performance, it was as forgettable as any all-star game in recent memory.
Not that anyone noticed.
"I wrote my name in there," Gwynn said, "so now I'm part of the history of Fenway Park. I always watched these parks on TV when I was a kid. Now that I'm here, I've learned so much the last couple of days. I didn't know there was a ladder out there in left field. I didn't know there was cement down at the bottom of The Wall. I didn't know that the park was tucked inside a neighborhood."
He wasn't alone. San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman took his sons to left field and played a game of whiffle ball in front of the Green Monster. He also went inside the wall, found the name of his brother Glenn Hoffman, a former Boston infielder, and added his own just below it.
"It's awesome," Hoffman said.
Colorado outfielder Larry Walker held up a piece of turf after the game, telling reporters: "I hope the grounds crew doesn't get too mad, because I tore this piece of grass out of right field. I'm taking it home, and I'm going to have it forever."
Walker had been overcome with emotion when he saw Williams crying as he greeted Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken, Mark McGwire and others during pregame ceremonies. And like several others, Walker was almost emotionally drained by the time Martinez threw the first pitch.
Martinez grabbed a bit of history for himself by becoming the first all-star pitcher to strike out the first four hitters he faced and five of six overall. He was named the game's most valuable player on a night when the two sides combined for more strikeouts (22) than hits (13). In a year when offensive statistics are being shattered in both leagues, no hitter came close to hitting the Green Monster.
Martinez found himself being compared to Carl Hubbell, who struck out five consecutive future Hall of Famers -- Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin -- in the 1934 game at the Polo Grounds.
"It's just a matter of how bad he wants to make hitters look," Texas closer John Wetteland said of Martinez.
Cleveland's Jim Thome added: "I think Pedro pretty much dominated and lifted everybody up. He's a big-game pitcher, and he rises to the occasion."
While there wasn't much offense, the Cleveland Indians had most of it, scoring three of the four AL runs and collecting two of the six hits. Shortstop Omar Vizquel also contributed a nice defensive play to end an NL rally in the seventh inning.
The Indians have the best record in baseball, but their fans were criticized for stuffing the ballot box and getting four of the team's regulars voted into the starting lineup. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees, the defending World Series champions, didn't have anyone in the starting lineup.
"I think we were basically showing the world what Cleveland is all about at this point," Indians leadoff man Kenny Lofton said. "People vote for our players because they deserve to be here. We try to represent our team well, and today I think we showed it."
The AL scored what turned out to be the winning runs in the bottom of the first inning off Phillies right-hander Curt Schilling. Lofton singled and teammate Manny Ramirez walked. Indians first baseman Thome got one run home with a single, and Ripken got the other home with another single.
The AL added two more runs in the fourth, and that was plenty, because seven AL pitchers combined on a seven-hitter. Barry Larkin singled in the only NL run in the third. The National Leaguers loaded the bases in the fourth, but David Cone of the Yankees got Jeromy Burnitz on an infield grounder to end the inning. Mike Mussina of the Orioles got into trouble in fifth, but struck out Sammy Sosa and McGwire to end the rally.
"This is why you don't see many high-scoring games in the all-star game," McGwire said. "When you're seeing the best of the best, you know they're going to go right at you with nasty stuff."
CAPTION: Pedro Martinez hoists MVP trophy after a dazzling outing comparable to Carl Hubbell's 1934 effort.