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SAS CITY -- One name that will be forever associated with the 2012 All-Star Game is Billy Butler.
Butler was the only player representing the Royals, who hosted the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. He was given an uproarious ovation when introduced before the game and received standing ovations for each of his two plate appearances.
Butler went 0-for-2 in the American League's 8-0 loss to the National League, but he said after the game that he's never felt as beloved as he did over the last two days.
"I definitely feel like I get great support every night at the ballpark whenever we're here. That was something special," Butler said. "That was beyond anything you can expect. I was very grateful for everything the fans did for me the past couple days."
But aside from his role as a hometown hero, Butler's name will forever be attached to the 83rd All-Star Game because of what happened Monday night at the State Farm Home Run Derby. The Kansas City fans in attendance rained boos down upon Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who bypassed Butler with his selections for the AL Derby squad.
Despite the fans' reactions, Butler said there are no ill feelings toward Cano.
"I talked to him a little bit during BP," Butler said. "I was just letting him know that I love him as a player, there's nothing changed, I love him as a person. I've gotten to grow to know Robinson over the years playing, and he's the best second baseman in the game, in my opinion. That's what needs to get noticed. Fans here are very passionate."
Much to the chagrin of those passionate Kansas City fans, Butler didn't get to perform Monday, and a day later, AL manager Ron Washington wasn't about to fall to the same fate as Cano did.
Butler pinch-hit for David Ortiz in the bottom of the seventh inning, hitting a ball hard but right at Mets third baseman David Wright, who made the play to retire Butler. He came up again in the bottom of the ninth and stood at the plate for a pair of wild throws by Joel Hanrahan, which allowed Elvis Andrus to scoot around the bases. Andrus was at third with one gone in the ninth, and Butler had an opportunity to spoil the shutout, but Hanrahan struck him out.
Regardless of the result, Butler was all smiles. He was thrilled to play his first All-Star Game in his home ballpark.
"It's pretty priceless," Butler said. "There's so many players that play their whole career and don't get to play in their home ballpark for one. For me having it be my first one, it's like a dream come true. The fans have been great, and they've always been great to me. It's all I've ever known, and I couldn't be more happy to be a Kansas City Royal."
Butler finally earned his All-Star recognition this season, his sixth as a solid hitter for the Royals. Between 2009 and 2011, Butler missed just 10 games and has appeared in all but one of the team's games this season. Since the start of the '09 campaign, Butler has batted .301 with 71 home runs, 318 RBIs and 153 doubles. He's been the model of consistent production for a franchise desperately seeking just that.
Butler's seventh-inning at-bat was the first at-bat by a Royal in an All-Star Game in Kansas City since John Mayberry grounded out against Tom Seaver in the eighth inning in 1973. The Royals had three players in that game.
Despite not having any of his Royals teammates to share the moment with, Butler said he still had fun with his AL teammates, making new friendships and rekindling old ones. Though, he added, the busy schedule kept him from playing host.
"Mostly, everybody's been getting pulled in a lot of different directions," Butler said. "It was good to make a few new friends and reconnect with a bunch of guys I've played with in the past. It was great."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com.