NEW YORK -- They wanted to take more swings in the batting cage after the game, but their father had another obligation first, so they followed him into the Yankees' clubhouse.
Brett Gardner knows that although they don't understand now, someday his sons Hunter and Miller will grasp the magnitude of what took place before the fifth inning of the Yankees' 6-2 win over the A's on Thursday: their father became an All-Star for the first time in his career.
"I know I'll always remember and cherish [this]," Brett Gardner said. "But they'll realize a little later on how special it is.
Gardner had just finished playing catch with Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield when he noticed that the outfield TV cameras were on him, something that he said doesn't usually happen. He looked up to see his face on the large video board with a message on it, congratulating him for earning the nod. Gardner will replace Alex Gordon of the Royals, who strained his left groin on Wednesday and is expected to miss eight weeks.
Shocked and excited, Gardner could only acknowledge the news for a brief moment, as he still had a game to finish.
But when the postgame interviews rolled around, Gardner -- who was handpicked by American League manager Ned Yost -- really began to soak it all in.
"I'll be 32 years old next month," Gardner said. "This is my first All-Star Game. I don't know how many more chances I'll get at it. I can't think of a better way to get in. He could have picked several other guys that are obviously very deserving, and for him to choose me, I'm definitely very grateful. I've got a big 'Thank you' coming for him."
"Tough decision," Yost said. "I sat there all morning trying to figure it out. The choice really boiled down between, for me, [Cleveland's Michael] Brantley, [Detroit's Yoenis] Cespedes and Brett Gardner. Their numbers are comparable. Cespedes has more home runs. Gardner is more of a speed guy. But you look at the stats over the last six weeks or so, Gardner had an OPS of over 1.000 in June and he's, since May 1, .901.
"Cespedes is right about .806, so you kind of look at the combination of [Gardner's] speed, the on-base percentage and the ability to play the outfield to his degree. I'm trying to put this team together, trying to put together the best team we can to win this baseball game, and we just went with him."
The Yankees had been rallying behind Gardner in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote all week to get to this point. They wore bald caps in his honor, made video messages, voted with fans and Tweeted constantly.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his team's rallying effort was a testament to how tight-knit the AL East's first-place team has grown.
"It makes you feel good about your club, how close they are and how bad they wanted it for him," Girardi said. "You could see the happiness."
To date, Gardner has registered at least three hits in six of his last 18 games. On Thursday, he notched two singles and a first-inning homer, bumping his numbers in the opening frame this season to .406 with 21 runs scored, six doubles, two triples and two homers.
As he took in the emotions of what Thursday's news meant -- his kids just a few feet away -- Gardner realized that next week when he slips on the AL jersey at the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile, it'll be a first, of sorts.
"I've never had a jersey with my name on my back," Gardner said. "Definitely excited about that."
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.