NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi, his wife Kimberly and his 9-month-old daughter, Serena, were supposed to be on vacation during the 2000 All-Star break. When Serena got sick before the trip, the family had to cancel their plans, and Girardi's break was relegated to a few days of relaxing at his home in Illinois. Then the phone rang.
On the other side of the line was vice president of club relations Phyllis Merhige, who was scrambling for a replacement catcher for that year's All-Star Game after Mike Piazza suffered a head injury.
Girardi -- then with the Cubs -- had never been to an All-Star Game as a player, and immediately accepted Merhige's offer, offering to fly his family to the game in Atlanta on his own dime.
"She said 'OK, we'll take care of flights and we'll get you out there,'" Girardi said. "I said, 'Don't worry, I'll get there. I'll get there by myself.' And I brought my wife and my daughter, and I got to carry her around the field. It was a special moment for me."
Inside of two weeks before this season's All-Star game in Kansas City, the Yankees' manager reminisced about his favorite All-Star moment on Thursday, which came during his time as a player during that game in 2000. On that hot night in Atlanta, Girardi was holding a sleeping Serena in his arms before the game. When the public address announcer called his name, Serena woke up to the cheers, a moment Girardi will remember for the rest of his life.
"It was a huge thrill for me, because it was the only one I got to go to [as a player]," Girardi said. "There were some guys who got hurt in front of me. Mike Piazza was down, and I didn't really care. Just the opportunity to say that you're an All-Star and be a player, that was special."
Girardi had the chance to manage the Midsummer Classic in 2010, when the game was played in Anaheim. The opportunity came after the passing of his close friend and team owner, George Steinbrenner, adding some perspective to the honor that baseball can bestow on an individual.
Still, Girardi thoroughly enjoyed the different perspective managing the game provided, even with the difficult decisions that came with the role.
"It's interesting, because you feel that you have a real responsibility to the American League to win the game, but you also feel the pull that you want to try and get everyone in the game," Girardi said. "That somewhat makes it difficult, but I really enjoyed it."
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 or royals.com/asg.
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.