Sherrill makes his mark in All-Star Game
In first Midsummer Classic, O's lefty hurls 2 1/3 shutout frames
NEW YORK -- A few hours before the 79th All-Star Game began on Tuesday, Orioles closer George Sherrill was standing near his locker at Yankee Stadium, showing the reporters some of the free gifts he received.
There was the free iPod and a box of Orioles caps with the flat bill, which is his trademark whenever he's on the mound. Getting free gifts is what happens when one makes the All-Star team.
However, Sherrill didn't show off his All-Star ring, and it was obvious by the look on his face that having the ring meant a lot to him.
"That was an honor," Sherrill said. "Not many people get to experience this."
Like many, Sherrill was in awe of the power that the Rangers' Josh Hamilton displayed on Monday night in the State Farm Home Run Derby. Hamilton set a single-round record by hitting 28 home runs in the first round. Not wanting to stay late, Sherrill left the stadium after Hamilton finished the first round.
Some of Hamilton's shots measured more than 500 feet, and Sherrill said he never saw a hitter display that kind of power in his life.
"That was something," Sherrill said. "I didn't want to be here all night. It was a good time, and I got a little bit of it on video. That was something, especially the one he hit off the wall behind the right-center-field bleachers."
For the first time in his career, Sherrill faced a hoard of media, and most of those questions were about his independent league days. In fact, Sherrill estimated that he proudly answered questions about that about 50 times, but he realizes that his story is a heartwarming one. The message is, if you work hard enough, one can make it to the big leagues, and Sherrill's hard work paid off.
Sherrill played with the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League and the Sioux Falls Canaries and Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League for five years, and he never gave up on reaching the Majors.
During his time in New York, he received calls from his independent league pals who congratulated him.
"They told me to keep doing it and wished me luck," Sherrill said. "It's just neat to be a part of [the All-Star festivities]. To be one that has been through the independent league, I finally got seen. I got lucky enough to be traded to a club and to be named the closer. We are fortunate to have two- and three-run leads to get me acclimated to the position. I come in and save them."
Sherrill was the first player in the American League who was introduced to the 55,632 fans on Tuesday night. Sherrill admitted before the game that he would be nervous because he would be the first one out on the field.
"I hate attention, but I'll get through it somehow," he said.
Sherrill did get through the All-Star Game, which was won by the AL, 4-3, in 15 innings. With the score tied at 3, Sherrill entered the game in the top of the 12th inning with the bases loaded and two outs. He struck out the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Considered by many to be a one-inning pitcher, Sherrill pitched 2 1/3 scoreless frames, because the AL was close to running out of pitchers. In fact, Rays lefty Scott Kazmir, the winning pitcher, was the only player left for the Junior Circuit.
In the 14th, it appeared that Sherrill was tired. The hard-throwing southpaw kept the ball up in the zone, but continued to get lucky. Both Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth and Dodgers catcher Russell Martin hit deep fly balls to right field for outs, but Sherrill was able to get Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada to ground out to end the inning.
"I didn't feel tired, but I guess I was, because the pitches were up," Sherrill said. "I battled through it and used the big part of the park."
The last time Sherrill hurled that many innings was four years ago as a member of the Mariners, but it didn't seem to be a big deal to the left-hander.
"I just went out and put up zeros," Sherrill said. "That's my job. I gave us a chance to win and we came through. I wasn't expecting 2 1/3, but I'll take it."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.