NEW YORK -- George Steinbrenner, the venerable 78-year-old chairman of the Yankees, made a rare appearance in the Bronx on Tuesday night for the 79th All-Star Game.
Wearing dark glasses, Steinbrenner walked slowly into the stadium's media entrance with the aid of several companions, using one of them to lean on as he hobbled toward the elevator on a chronically sore knee.
He later was driven out on to the field along with his son Hal at the end of the lengthy pregame ceremony in which this year's All-Stars were introduced at their fielding positions along with 49 of the 63 living Hall of Famers.
"It was very emotional," said Hal Steinbrenner, the chairman of Yankees Global and the younger of the two sons now running the Yankees. "There was a lot of energy down there. It was magical, that's for sure. I think he really appreciated it."
Steinbrenner waved to the crowd and was hugged by several of the current and former Yankees on the field, which included Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Wade Boggs, Rich Gossage, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera.
As he rode out through a gate in the outfield fence and around the warning track, Steinbrenner was introduced by his moniker, "The Boss."
"I don't even know how many people were cheering. It was all kind of a blur when you're moving," the younger Steinbrenner said. "I know he appreciated it because I could tell by the look on his face. A lot of the Hall of Famers came over and said, 'Hi' to him over by the mound. It was all special. All of it."
Participating in the event, though, was a last-minute decision.
"We had thought about it, but we really hadn't talked to him about it until today," Hal Steinbrenner said. "He's very much adverse to that kind of recognition. But we told him we really wanted to see him do it. 'We'd love to recognize you and Major League Baseball would. It would be a great thing.' He was great about it."
Steinbrenner, who purchased the team in 1972 from CBS, recently has been reported in ill health. And he appeared to be a bit shaky as he was helped on and off the cart in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse level
His son, though, dispelled any notion that his father was in ill health.
"His knee has been bothering him for a while," he said. "It's a little hard for him to get up and down sometimes. But he got through it great. We had a good time."
The elder Steinbrenner has been seen sparingly in the Bronx this season, the last at the 85-year-old ballpark on 161st Street and River Avenue. The final regular-season game is scheduled for Sept. 21 against the Orioles, and then the scene will shift across 161st Street to the new Yankee Stadium next season.
During Steinbrenner's tenure, the Yankees have won the World Series six times and captured 10 American League pennants. They last won the World Series in 2000, defeating the crosstown rival Mets.
This was the second All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium since Steinbrenner became principal owner, the other having been staged in 1977, a year after the original stadium was refurbished.
Last year, he handed day-to-day control of the franchise to his two sons and ultimately changed his title from principal owner to chairman.