NEW YORK -- Talk about your perfect paparazzi moments: Slugger Alex Rodriguez planting an autograph on rocker Sheryl Crow's baseball just in front of the American League dugout during batting practice before Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Crow was at Yankee Stadium to sing the national anthem and to help promote baseball's campaign to raise money for cancer research, Stand Up To Cancer.
So, you bet she and A-Rod were surrounded by television cameras and photographers on the jam-packed field, and they smiled pretty for the cameras.
I caught up with Crow a few minutes later and couldn't resist. This is how rumors start, Sheryl: Today Madonna, tomorrow Sheryl Crow. ...
"Listen, you don't get bigger than Madonna," the pretty and personable Crow said, smiling. "So I'm pretty certain that that rumor would die pretty quickly."
Crow spent much of the AL's allotted batting practice time on the field and played the part of your average autograph hunter. Well, as average as you can get with gold records and million-dollar compact disc sales.
I asked her whether she'd sold the A-Rod autographed ball yet, and she joked, "I intend to put it on e-Bay as soon as I get home."
Then she turned serious and said, "Let me tell you, I've got a couple of nephews, 9 and 11, and they'll be worshiping the ground I walk on when I get home with these baseballs.
She seemed to know her baseball. She grew up in Missouri -- thus, her Cardinals interest -- and she wasn't just some chick who scored a field pass. She even asked Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox for his autograph.
"I grew up watching the Cardinals," she said. "Later on, I got to know a lot of those players -- Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Andy Van Slyke. I've always been a fan."
So much so, it turns out, she even knows the nicknames.
"I've got to get Big Papi's or I won't be able to get in the house when I get home," she said. "My 9-year-old nephew will kill me."
She missed David Ortiz on the field. But not long after the AL went inside, someone grabbed Ortiz and told him Crow would love his autograph, and she was waiting outside the clubhouse.
Ortiz, who can't play because of his wrist and is here just to soak up the sun, went out and obliged.
And Crow? Well, the All-Star Game will be played in St. Louis in 2009, you know.
Might a certain Missouri-native singer be in attendance?
Said Crow: "Absolutely."