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All-Star McLouth makes it family affair

All-Star McLouth makes it family affair

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NEW YORK -- The small-town native, Nate McLouth, sat inside the Grand Hyatt New York Hotel, seemingly unnerved about playing under the big-city lights. That's not to say, however, that McLouth has an affinity for New York City.

"It gets to you after a while, being from a small town, like I am," McLouth quipped.

Currently in New York as the lone Pittsburgh representative for Tuesday's All-Star Game, McLouth grew up in Whitehall, Mich., a town with a population of less than 3,000.

So how is he combating the hustle and bustle of the big city? Well, McLouth brought a little bit of small-town Michigan with him as he prepares for Monday and Tuesday's All-Star events.

The center fielder arrived in New York on Sunday night after flying with St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick in Pujols' private plane. When he landed, his parents, Rick and Pam, and brothers, Chris and Jake, were in New York, waiting for him.

For McLouth, the opportunity to share his first All-Star experience with his family will remain more memorable than seeing baseball's greatest stars surrounding him. In fact, as McLouth entertained questions from national media members, it was the stories of he and his father that he kept coming back to.

It was Rick McLouth who introduced his son to the sport, putting a bat and a ball in his hand as a youngster. He taught his son about the history of the Detroit Tigers and the two drove to Tiger Stadium a handful of times each summer.

Nate McLouth had his dad as a coach in Little League and through High School. He still has the elder McLouth throw him batting practice in the offseason.

In other words, there was no way McLouth was about to soak in this experience without his biggest fan doing so, as well.

"He'll be wearing the All-Star Game hat and shirt -- he's that kind of dad," McLouth said. "When I called them and told them, they were every bit as excited as I was, if not more."

The entourage does, however, have one requested responsibility.

"I've never liked those guys on the field with those cameras," McLouth said. "So they'll be taping the memories for me."

For McLouth, this week will be yet another opportunity to showcase the offensive and defensive consistency that his teammates and those in Pittsburgh have been admiring all season. However, McLouth said he's also determined to make it an opportunity to reward himself for a breakout first half.

"Everybody that has been here before that I've talked to just told me to take it all in as much as I possibly could," McLouth said. "You don't know when or if you'll ever come back."

McLouth enters the All-Star break leading the Pirates with 19 homers and 65 RBIs. And don't forget that this is coming from an outfielder that wasn't ensured of a starting job with the Pirates until one week before Opening Day.

He parlayed that opportunity into becoming the first everyday Pirates center fielder since Andy Van Slyke (1992-93) to be named to the National League All-Star squad.

"My goal when I was younger was that I would play in the big leagues," McLouth said. "It never was that I would be an All-Star. It's great, though. Being in New York makes it even more special, and I can't wait to get over to Yankee Stadium."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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