National League starting pitcher Curt Schilling was sharp early on, striking out three through two innings pitched. In the bottom of the first, Barry Bonds hit a deep fly ball off AL starter Derek Lowe, which looked to be deep enough to be a home run. Instead, center fielder Torii Hunter reached over the wall and caught Bonds' drive, denying the NL an early lead. Bonds playfully picked up Hunter as the NL took the field the next inning.
The NL would get on the board in the bottom of the second, when a Mike Piazza groundout scored Vladimir Guerrero from third. They'd score three more runs the next inning, when Todd Helton singled home Jimmy Rollins. Barry Bonds would get revenge for having his first-inning home run taken away by belting a two-run shot to give the NL a 4–0 lead. The AL would finally score in the fourth, on the strength of a Manny Ramírez RBI single.
The AL would cut the NL lead in half in the fifth, when Alfonso Soriano hit a solo homer off Éric Gagné to cut the lead to 4–2. The NL got a run back with Damian Miller's RBI double to put the NL up 5–2. The AL put together a big inning in the seventh to take the lead. An RBI groundout from Garret Anderson, an RBI single from Tony Batista, and a two-run double from Paul Konerko scored four runs for the AL, giving them a 6–5 lead after their half of the seventh.
The NL regained the lead in bottom of the seventh, on a two-run single from Lance Berkman, which scored Mike Lowell and Damian Miller. The AL quickly tied the game back up in the eighth with Omar Vizquel's RBI triple. Neither team scored after that in regulation, and the game went into extra innings. Vicente Padilla and Freddy García each pitched scoreless innings in the tenth and eleventh, keeping the game tied.
A problem arose at this point, as Padilla and Garcia were the last available pitcher on each team. In the middle of the eleventh inning, AL and NL managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly met by the first base dugout with Commissioner Bud Selig to discuss the situation, and it was controversially ruled that if the NL did not score in the bottom of the eleventh, the game would be declared a tie1. After the decision was announced over the stadium's PA system, fans loudly booed and jeered, with beer bottles being thrown onto the field, and chants of "Let them play!", "Refund!", "Bud must go!" and "Ripoff!" were heard. Garcia retired the side in the eleventh, and the game ended in a 7–7 tie, to further booing and bottle throwing. No MVP award was given.
1 Rule 4.17 of the normal MLB playing rules provides that a team that is unable or refuses to place nine players on the field shall forfeit the game.
Before the game, Red Sox All-Stars Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon and Ugueth Urbina unveiled a No. 9 (in honor of Ted Williams, who died a few days earlier) painted into the grass in left field—the position the "Splendid Splinter" patrolled in 19 All-Star Games while playing for Boston. It was also the introduction of the uniform change for the Red Sox, adding a black "9" and black armband on the right sleeve of the jersey, for the remainder of the 2002 season.
In the bottom of the first inning, Torii Hunter made a leaping catch of what would have been a home run by Barry Bonds. Initially lauded as a great play, the catch took on extra significance when the game ended in a tie and the play was voted the play of the year on MLB.com.
In Bernie's Dugout above left field, mascots from multiple MLB teams joined Bernie and pushed each other down the slide every time a home run was made.
When Freddy García batted in the 11th inning, he wore a Chicago White Sox helmet; coincidentally, he would be traded to the White Sox two years later.
With the American League having five Shortstops and one Second baseman, Omar Vizquel came off the bench to play second base.
After the first out was recorded in the bottom of the 11th, public address announcer Robb Edwards announced the decision that if the National League did not score the game would end in a tie. They did not score, and the game ended in a tie. When the game was called, the fans started the Bad News Bears chant of "Let them Play!, Let them Play!" to no avail.
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver stated that if the American League won, Paul Konerko would be named MVP, and if the National League won, Damian Miller would be named MVP.
Throughout the game, both managers wore microphones to converse with Buck, McCarver, and each other.