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MLB hosts Make-A-Wish children
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07/11/2004  1:27 AM ET
MLB hosts Make-A-Wish children
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Major League Baseball is hosting children from the Make-A-Wish Foundation as special guests during the All-Star festivities. (Christie Cowles/MLB.com)
HOUSTON -- If you could make a wish to visit any place or event, what would it be? Now imagine if your wish was granted. That's exactly what happened for six Make-A-Wish Foundation children who wished they could attend the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. MLB is hosting the children and their families as special guests at the All-Star Game and all the festivities leading up to it.

The Make-A-Wish children will attend the John Hancock All-Star FanFest throughout the weekend, the New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game and Taco Bell Legends and Celebrities Softball Game on Sunday, the Century 21 All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday and the 75th All-Star Game on Tuesday.

"It's very gratifying to bring these kids whose wish it was to come to the All-Star Game from all over the country," said Tom Brasuell, Vice President of Community Affairs for MLB. "We're very grateful also to Major League Baseball's newest sponsor Bank of America, who graciously added another kid who was on the waiting list to come to this game, and his family, [for a total of six children and families] to enjoy these festivities, and invited them all to a breakfast [Sunday] morning."

The kids will participate in a special baseball clinic with Astros pitcher Roger Clemens on Sunday, meet the Futures Game managers during the pregame ceremonies later on Sunday, and meet the All-Star Game managers and starting pitchers at the All-Star press conference on Monday.

"It's just a great feeling, the kids really appreciate it, they're going to have a great time," Brasuell said. "It's like picking from a great seven-course meal, there's just so much great to pick from, they'll enjoy it all."

The Make-A-Wish kids were welcomed to Houston on Saturday evening at a reception and dinner at the Doubletree Hotel Allen Center. The families came from many different states to take part in the All-Star festivities. Justin, 8, lives in Chapel Hill, NC; Matthew, 11, came from Hudson, OH; Matthew, 13, is from Studio City, CA; Zachary, 14, lives in Pittsburgh, PA; Michael, 16, came from Omaha, NE; and Robert, 17, is from Miami, FL.

Michael from Omaha said he is really looking forward to the Clemens clinic.

"It's exciting to get to meet him, because he's been pitching since before I was born," he said. "And here he is an All-Star again, he's doing pretty good for coming out of retirement."

Michael said he's a Cubs fan and his favorite player is Sammy Sosa. He's looking forward to watching Sosa in the All-Star Game.

"[Sammy] Sosa, [Ken Griffey] Junior, [Barry] Bonds all in the outfield, that's pretty exciting," he said. "[Sosa] is fun to watch, we went to a game and he hit three home runs, he made it worth our while."

Robert from Miami said his favorite player is the Arizona Diamondbacks' Roberto Alomar, and he is also a Florida Marlins fan.

"I've always been playing baseball all my life and I love the game," Robert said. "This is a great wish come true to me, it's a dream to be here and meet everyone. I wasn't expecting this much stuff from Make-A-Wish and all these people, they did a great job."

Robert said he will be rooting for the National League at the All-Star Game. He said he's also looking forward to watching the Home Run Derby.

"I'm just looking forward to seeing all those long balls," he said.

The kids were given All-Star memorabilia at the Make-A-Wish reception, such as All-Star caps, American and National League jerseys, and commemorative mini All-Star home plates. The families were given All-Star hats and shirts. This was just the first of many fun gifts for the kids, as they will receive All-Star goodie bags, autographs from players and managers and autographed copies of Sharon Robinson's book, "Promises to Keep" about her father Jackie Robinson.

Julie Baldwin, a Make-A-Wish volunteer and Houston resident, is coordinating the activities for the kids with MLB Community Affairs throughout All-Star weekend. She said she wants to make the All-Star festivities something the children will always remember.

"These kids can do anything they want to do in the entire world, and [the All-Star Game] is what they choose to do," Baldwin said. "Major League Baseball and everybody's just been so wonderful... my goal this weekend is to make sure that it's a memorable experience for everybody because this is their ultimate wish and we want to make it come true."

Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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