ALLENTOWN - Erik Kratz got the earliest exit of any starting player in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

Judging by the tears in his eyes and the smile on his face, he didn't take it as a slight.

The Indianapolis catcher played four innings in the field, went 0 for 1 at the plate, and took a foul tip off the chin early in the International League's 2-1 win over the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday night at Coca-Cola Park.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Durham manager Charlie Montoyo, the former Red Barons infielder who was piloting the IL, told Kratz that he would be removed from the game. He asked Frank Kremblas, an IL coach and his manager at Indianapolis, why.

"He said I looked a little dazed," Kratz said. "I was like, I want to play another inning.

"Then he said, 'Do you want to play another inning, or do you want to go to the big leagues?' "

A 30-year-old from Telford, in southeastern Pennsylvania, who has 611 minor league games in a nine-year pro career without ever getting a big league call-up, Kratz was hitting .296 with nine homers and 37 RBIs at Indianapolis this season.

A dozen or so family members were on hand to watch the game.

On Monday, the Pirates designated backup catcher Jason Jaramillo - a former Red Barons backstop - to Indianapolis.

"I am a little surprised," Kratz said. "But it's a great surprise."

Dandy Andy

Whenever Andy Tracy stepped onto the field, it seemed as if the fans at a sold out Coca-Cola Field took notice.

Of course, Tracy has been one of the staples of the Lehigh Valley franchise since its inception.

The 36-year-old infielder, who has played in 1,458 career minor league games, has hit 60 homers in 2½ years with the IronPigs. The biggest ovation of the night for any player came in the fifth inning, when Tracy lined a single to center for the International League's first hit.

Bump glad to be closer to home

Towanda graduate Nate Bump has had a lifetime worth of memories in the game of baseball.

An All-American at Penn State, he was a first-round draft pick in the Major League Baseball draft. He has pitched in playoff games and has a World Series ring from his time with the Florida Marlins.

The one thing he didn't have was a chance to share those experiences with his kids, that is until now.

"It's more for my kids now," Bump said. "I hope they remember this when I'm old and have arthritis and can't move my shoulder."

When Bump took the mound for the Triple-A all-star game in his home stadium with Lehigh Valley he did so to a huge ovation, and that's something he hopes his children got to enjoy.

"It's fun," Bump said. "It's nice here. Playing here, it's the best crowds I have played in front of in my life."

And playing back in Pennsylvania has meant more chances for his family to watch him play.

"It's been good, I've been living at home and traveling to the games," Bump said. "My parents have been able to come up for games and my wife's parents have been here. It's been really good."

Drawing a crowd

It's probably not a surprise, considering the fact that Coca-Coal Park has been one of the top destinations for International League fans for the past three years. But the announced crown of 10,000 for the All-Star Game was a sellout in Allentown.

This season, the average crowd of 9,075 to watch Lehigh Valley home games leads the International League. The third-youngest venue to host a Triple-A All-Star Game, Coca-Cola Field has been lauded as a minor-league jewel. But some point out that the success of this week's All-Star festivities, as well as the Lehigh Valley franchise itself.

"The ballpark is a big part of that," International League president Randy Mobley said. "But it's not all about the ballpark. The ballpark deserves credit, but not anything near all the credit.

"Overall, it's the sales effort of this staff and the treatment of the fans that contributes to that. You can take this ballpark and put it in other places, and it would do OK. But you can put this place in the hard working philosophy department. That's what puts them over the top."

News and notes

Columbus outfielder Jose Constanza, who was scheduled to start, was scratched from the starting lineup because of an illness. He did pinch run in the eighth inning and play the ninth in center field. … Former Yankees farmhand Michael Dunn had a big night. He struck out the side in the eighth inning for the International League, then said after the game that he had been called up to the big leagues. The Gwinnett southpaw was sent to the Atlanta organization in the trade that brought Javy Vazquez and Boone Logan to New York. … Syracuse third baseman Chase Lambin was the player of the game for the IL. Iowa pitcher Thomas Diamond, who started and threw two shutout innings, earned the honor for the PCL.

Contact the writer: dcollins@timesshamrock.com