HOUSTON -- When it comes to the All-Star Game, managers and coaches are no different than the players. Being able to be in the same clubhouse and rub shoulders with some of the best players in the game is an unforgettable experience.
Astros manager Brad Mills, who served as the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox for six years, was able to take part in two All-Star Games as a part of manager Terry Francona's American League staff, one of which came during the final season of Yankee Stadium in New York in 2008.
Not only was it the final All-Star Game in the House That Ruth Built, but it wound up being the longest All-Star Game in history as the AL beat the National League, 4-3, in 15 innings. It was the fourth time Yankee Stadium hosted an All-Star Game, with Midsummer Classics also having been held there in 1939, '60 and '77.
"It was the last year for Yankee Stadium, the last All-Star Game there and everything else, and then we wind up going 15 innings," Mills said. "That was a mess, because we were running out of pitching. Both sides were running out of pitching, and Terry Francona and [NL manager] Clint Hurdle did a good job of getting everything squared away."
The Red Sox and Yankees played some heated games at Yankee Stadium during Mills' time in Boston, but things were different when the All-Star Game rolled into town. The Sox and Bombers were on the same side, allowing everyone to soak up the atmosphere.
"The big thing is when you walk into Yankee Stadium, and in the weight room they have all the balls for the players to sign, and it's cool watching the guys sit down there and sign all the balls and sign the memorabilia they had to sign," Mills said. "They're outstanding players, and to be able to be with them and talk with them and chat with them, that's exciting stuff."
The two teams combined for 27 hits (14 by the AL, 13 by the NL) and left an All-Star Game record 28 runners on base. There were 63 players who saw action in the game, with Michael Young of the Texas Rangers pushing home the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
Mills, who was also the bench coach in the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit, recalls how difficult it was trying to make sure the AL had enough players to finish the game. Mills joked it was his close friend Francona who was doing most of the hand-wringing.
"We talked about it and I said, 'Well, you're the manager,'" Mills joked. "It became quite an issue, but it was good to wind up on the winning end."
The AL extended its unbeaten streak to a record 12 games.
The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.