Part IV: The Fan Fest Revisited and the Main Event
(AKA: The Midsummer Classic)
(AKA: Saying goodbye to Big Papi)
All-Star Tuesday was finally here, and it would be an early morning for me while my sister was off having emergency surgery. She said I should go to the game and try to get her something while I was there. This sadly meant I would be flying solo for this day… but I still pressed on and used my free pass for Fan Fest to check out some of the items that I loved, as well as some other areas I felt that I didn’t explore enough. To me, this felt like a free pass. Since I still had an extra Fan Fest ticket that would have otherwise gone to waste, I decided to give it away to a very kind Rockies fan visiting from Colorado. That little act really made his day, and I was glad to provide some joy in a fellow baseball fan’s life. Maybe this would be good karma for the rest of the day?
As soon as I arrived, I wanted to check out two events going on: the All-Star Auction that was previously mentioned in another post, and the Q&A session with MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred and legendary announcer, Dick Enberg. While the auction yielded some incredibly high bids that were too rich for my blood, I jaunted over to the Q&A session on the MLB.com stage. Only a few feet away from me were the commissioner and Dick. After being in awe for a few seconds, I took in a few of the questions that were being asked by both Mr. Enberg and members of the audience. One of the questions that stood out to me had to do with collective bargaining and how far they have come since the infamous strike of 1994. Rob made some brilliant points about revenue sharing and the importance of the frequency of drug testing that can be approved by both the player’s union and the owners.
Another great question had to do with the role of the designated hitter. Frankly, he was okay with the “status quo” of things going on right now because he felt that it added a uniqueness to each league. Personally, I’d much rather see pitchers hit in both leagues as I will make the “Babe Ruth” argument that any truly legendary baseball player should be able to pitch well enough to win a World Series on the mound (see: 1918 Red Sox… before that dreaded curse) and at bat with a Ruthian swing (see: any 1920s Yankees championship team, and the 1932 “Called Shot” game). Naturally, some modern-day fans will say the same thing about S.F. Giants hurler, Madison Bumgarner. That guy single-handedly lead the Giants to their 2014 World Series victory… arguably. At least Manfred gave a very… diplomatic answer that would maybe appease most fans that like having it both ways. I guess I’d rather have at least one league with the pitchers allowed to bat rather than both the AL and NL using the designated hitter rule.
After that informative Q&A session, I jaunted over to the Art of Baseball to check out my buddy’s incredible booth once again. This time, I was ready to buy some artwork specifically from this All-Star Weekend. I ended up purchasing the exclusive San Diego All-Star print which has the famous old-fashioned street lamps from the Gaslamp District where Petco Park lies. Aside from having the ASG logo, there are three stars hanging above the street lamp denoting the three All-Star Games in the city of San Diego. Of course, I thought it had a double meaning for the late-great broadcaster, Jerry Coleman whose catchphrase was, “Hang a star on that!” After buying that, I also ordered a BRAND NEW print from Prinstant Replays that was not even 12 hours old! The founder of that great website, Hunter Mize, was watching the Home Run Derby and thought Giancarlo Stanton’s masterful performance deserved to be on a poster. Sure enough, he made a new print showing where ALL 61 of his dingers landed. He only had one print, and it was a huge print just for display. Apparently, I was the first one to order it in advance at the Fan Fest. I mainly wanted to get it because I love the work they do, and it’s now commemorating one of my favorite sporting events I had ever attended. Plus, they were having a special deal that day for another free print. Score!
Soon, I found myself passing through that section and seeing a somewhat big line to get an autograph from Rollie Fingers! Yes, I had already met him from years ago, but he’s still one of the coolest cats around… and that mustache, though! After that final autograph, I went through several of the classic booths once again, and went through the Hall of Fame section to see some fantastic vintage jerseys. I also passed through the Women in Baseball section, the minor league hats, and the international section! All of these spots had interesting artifacts and fascinating jerseys.
On my way out, I made sure to check out the Fox Sports San Diego area just for the sake of getting through every booth while I was there. Much to my surprise, I met up with the lovely Julie Alexandria and Michelle Margaux both from Fox Sports SD. I talked with both of them for a few minutes, and they are super friendly and were such a pleasure to talk with. I’m only sad more people didn’t check out their booth because they really love talking about baseball.
At this point, it was two-and-a-half hours before first pitch. Thus, I made my way to Petco Park and didn’t have much issue with lines going into the stadium. One of the first places I went to inside the park was the BRAND-NEW Padres Hall of Fame that had just opened two days before to enormous lines. When I arrived, there were minimal lines going into this new place inside the Western Metal Supply Co. building. Simply put, the new Padres Hall of Fame is a sight to behold.
As for the game itself… I will keep this super short. Getting to see the All-Stars introduced was a surreal feeling for me. That anthem with the flyover was indescribable. The ovation for Big Papi was beyond words. Thank you, David Ortiz. Seeing all those stars in one setting is another bucket list item I can cross off my checklist. With that said, here are a few pictures of my unforgettable experience.
Once again, thank you to everyone I met, big thank you to MasterCard, and the biggest of thanks to my buddy, Preston, for providing the free parking! Thank YOU all for reading… see you at the ballpark!