NEW YORK - Yankee Stadium sits hard by the Harlem River, just off the Major Deegan Expressway and the No. 4 train line at 161st Street in the Bronx.
But tonight, the surroundings might as well be cornstalks, because it's going to feel like "Field of Dreams."
When the starting lineups are introduced for the 79th All-Star Game, Twins catcher Joe Mauer will take his position ... alongside 15-time All-Star Yogi Berra.
"I can't wait to meet him," Mauer said Monday. "I love his commercials -- all that stuff, so that'll be fun."
Besides the 64 current All-Stars, there will be 40 Hall of Famers floating to their old positions, including Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield.
No sport honors its history like baseball, and organizers are pulling out every stop to commemorate the 85th and final year at Yankee Stadium.
All those stars, and "the venue is definitely going to be the main attraction," Twins closer Joe Nathan said.
Mauer, Nathan and Twins first baseman Justin Morneau recounted their first experiences at Yankee Stadium, as they prepared to face the National League tonight. At stake is home-field advantage in the World Series.
"You look around," Morneau said, "and it's the place where Ruth played and Gehrig played and Mantle played. You think about that when you're out there."
All three visited Monument Park upon their first visits here, and for Nathan, it stirred memories from his childhood.
He grew up in Middletown, N.Y., about an hour north of the city. He was a Mets fan, so Shea Stadium was his favorite destination, but he probably saw 20 to 30 games at Yankee Stadium, he said.
"The first series I played here, I'd catch myself actually looking up at seats where I sat as a kid," Nathan said. "Now I'm down here and somebody else is watching. That's a pretty cool feeling."
Nathan secured about 20 tickets for friends and family. He worked overtime getting seats for his old coaches from Pine Bush High School, Jeff Maisonet and Tom Walraven.
Nathan wasn't heavily recruited out of high school, but Maisonet was college roommates with Matt Senk, the coach at Stony Brook University. Maisonet's recommendation helped land Nathan a spot on Stony Brook's team.
"Getting a chance to bring old coaches to the game, that makes it more enjoyable for me," Nathan said.
This is Nathan's third All-Star Game, the second for Mauer and Morneau.
In 2006, the Mauer family loaded a bus from St. Paul and rode to Pittsburgh's PNC Park. What's next, The Mauers take Manhattan?
"No bus this time," Mauer said, smiling.
But his parents, grandparents and brothers are all here again.
"My parents had never been [to New York City], so this is kind of a cool thing for them," Mauer said. "It's actually my parents' anniversary [today], their 30th anniversary, so my dad said I saved him. I bailed him out of trying to plan something. So he's happy."
Mauer, who was voted into the starting lineup by the fans, will bat eighth in a stacked AL lineup. Morneau is one of two AL reserves who play first base, with Detroit's Carlos Guillen the other.
Nathan is one of six closers on the 12-man AL pitching staff. Manager Terry Francona of Boston was coy about whether he would use Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to pitch the ninth inning.
But the AL is 10-0-1 in the past 11 All-Star Games. It's hard to imagine a save situation falling to any other AL pitcher, especially on this night.
"I think we all expect Rivera to take the ball in the ninth," Nathan said.
After all those grand introductions, that would be a storied way to end the fourth and final All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.The Twins' Justin Morneau edged the heavy favorite, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers, for the Home Run Derby title. Story on C6