LOS ANGELES -- A member of the National League's coaching staff for next month's Midsummer Classic, Mets manager Terry Collins has attended one previous All-Star Game, in Arlington back in 1995. He remembers working under manager Felipe Alou, of course, throwing batting practice and watching the Home Run Derby. He remembers the eighth-inning home run that Jeff Conine hit to win it. He remembers the atmosphere, the enthusiasm, the fun.
But mostly, Collins remembers that it was "stinkin', smokin' hot."
"It was a different game," Collins said of his mid-90s All-Star experience, noting that the Home Run Derby was not nearly the spectacle it is today. "But it was a lot of fun. It was a great game."
The NL won on Conine's homer off Steve Ontiveros in the eighth, and scored all three of their runs on homers. Rookie sensation Hideo Nomo pitched two shutout innings for the NL, striking out three to match AL starter Randy Johnson and only add to his international buzz. And Collins, in his second of three seasons as manager of the Astros, watched it all with one of the best seats in the house.
Collins coached first base for the first three innings, as he is likely to do next month in Kansas City under NL manager Tony La Russa. Then he retired to the dugout to advise Alou during the later innings.
"Back then, you didn't do much," Collins said. "Felipe brought his staff from Montreal. I threw BP and had a great time. That was pretty much what we did."
Still, Collins said, the honor was simply in attending. Collins has been around professional baseball for more than four decades as a player, coach, coordinator and manager, since the Pirates drafted him back in 1971. He has friends at every level of the game, from the United States to Japan. But only once has he been invited to participate in the MLB All-Star Game in any capacity.
Collins will make it twice next month, with La Russa acknowledging his fine first season at the helm of the Mets.
Based on his previous experience, he is beyond excited.
"I think it's great," Collins said. "It's an honor to be asked and certainly it's a thrill to be associated with the game itself. I am truly honored."
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