07/13/2004 6:57 PM ET
Fans put team allegiances aside
Crowd excited just to see game's greatest talent
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Standing squarely in front of a concession stand at Minute Maid Park a couple of hours before the 75th All-Star Game, Gladys Tanner couldn't have cared less about where the Astros sit in the National League Central standings.
|Fans gathered early at batting practice to catch a glimpse of Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. (Charlie Krupa/AP)
A Houston native and lifelong Astros fan, she wasn't worried about whether Carlos Beltran might be traded, and she wasn't putting much thought into whether Jimy Williams might be fired.
No, the only thing on Tanner's mind was the speed with which she could get her $6.50 "Helmet Sundae" and get back down to her spot behind the American League dugout. The souvenir hat atop her head, already signed by Gary Sheffield and David Ortiz, had far too much open space on it.
"I love the Astros to death and always will," she said. "But this isn't a day to think about them. We've got the best baseball players in the world all in one place, and I just want to enjoy that as much as I can."
That seemed to be the consensus among fans who arrived early to see the bulk of batting practice. There were plenty of Yankees and Marlins and Giants and Orioles caps, but most of the people wearing them weren't there strictly to root for the All-Stars from their favorite teams.
More than anything, they were pulling for the game itself.
"I've never been to a World Series, but I have to think this is better as far as just enjoying baseball," said Richard Farley of Santa Monica, Calif., decked out in a Kirk Gibson-model Dodgers jersey. "The World Series must be awesome, but that's for the best team. This is the best players, and it's the only chance you get to see them all on the same field."
Greg Ng, in from Arizona and wearing a Diamondbacks cap, heartily agreed.
"It's almost like a chance to just forget about whatever problems your team might have," he said. "It helps energize you -- like, remind you why you love the game in the first place. It's just a huge thrill to be here."
Added Kim Lawton of Denver: "I love Todd Helton, but he's probably the guy I'm least excited about seeing."
As Tanner's sundae finally arrived, she excitedly headed down the concourse. But before leaving, she had something else to say. Something to clarify what she feared might come across as indifference to the Astros.
"I forgot about [NL starter] Roger Clemens for a second," she said. "I don't know how on earth, but I did. So make sure you say I'm pulling for him the most. He's my favorite Astro of all."
Mychael Urban is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.