KANSAS CITY -- The All-Star Game came to Kansas City to celebrate baseball's current stars. All-Star FanFest has been packed with former All-Stars and Hall of Famers. But there was quite a bit of excitement generated Friday by one of the Royals' future stars.
Outfielder Wil Myers, currently playing with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, was at FanFest on Friday, and his presence was a thrill for the many Royals fans in attendance. Walking the floor of the massive exhibition hall, fans stopped Myers for pictures, and his hour-long autograph session generated an extensive line.
"This place is crazy," Myers said. "I've never been to a FanFest before, and I've never seen anything like this. All of the events going on and all the people, it's pretty cool. I'm excited about it. It's definitely cool to see these hometown fans. We have the best fans in baseball, I feel like."
Appropriately enough, the line stretched past the Hometown Heroes exhibit, celebrating Royals greats of the past and present. Royals fans are hoping he'll soon be in that company.
"It's huge," said Royals fan Brian Gant of the excitement surrounding Myers. "I hope he doesn't fail. Even when he has failed, he's come back ... you can't not root for him."
Myers is having a stellar season in the Minor Leagues. He's crushed 27 home runs in 83 games between Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, getting Royals fans primed for his eventual arrival in the big leagues.
Myers will be playing in the SiriusXM Futures Game on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. It's the second time he's participated in the event, but this time, he said, will be much better because of his increased production, and the fact that he's playing in the ballpark he hopes to soon call home.
It almost feels like a lie to say he has yet to make the big time. He was autographing All-Star Game programs with his picture on the cover.
Brett leads youth clinic at All-Star FanFest
KANSAS CITY -- George Brett, a Hall of Famer and Gold Glove Award winner, knows how to get baserunners out when they're caught in a rundown. But not even Brett could catch the elusive Zach Yarbrough.
Yarbrough, 12, from DeSoto, Kan., participated in a youth baseball clinic with the Royals legend at All-Star FanFest on Friday at the Kansas City Convention Center. In addition to receiving batting tips from the 13-time All-Star, Yarbrough avoided tag after tag as a baserunner.
"That's crazy," Yarbrough said, still a little out of breath from running between second and third base. "He was a third baseman and a first baseman, and you figure an easy out right off the bat. I'm surprised."
The clinic was the first of many featuring former Major Leaguers that will be held on the diamond at FanFest from Friday through Tuesday. Brett, the All-Star ambassador, kicked things off with a short interview, followed by participating in soft toss with the kids. He tossed balls to older kids like Yarbrough, while working on positioning the bat with younger players. He also provided some sliding tips to the kids during the baserunning portion of the program.
What advice did the member of the 3,000-hit club give the young Yarbrough?
"Just that I need to power forward instead of falling back, put more power in the ball and make it go farther," Yarbrough recalled. "He's one of the best hitters ever. That's just the best advice you can get."
'Taco hats' or 'grass hats' add to FanFest spectacle
KANSAS CITY -- Tuesday's All-Star Game will showcase a battle between the American League and the National League, but a different rivalry was heating up Friday on the first day of All-Star FanFest: taco vs. grass.
Both everyday objects were transformed into foam hats, which quickly became the day's favorite giveaway and headwear du jour.
Friends and families were instantly torn apart and forced to take sides in the jovial civil war between Mexican delicacy and baseball playing surface, a battle that could only happen at FanFest.
Behind the taco hat -- or the taco-hawk when worn correctly -- was Taco Bell, which was sponsoring the "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" event, where fans steal bases alongside video of Major Leaguers such as Alex Gordon, Derek Jeter and Matt Kemp. Along with a free hat came a free taco, bettering the taco's chances of supremacy.
The grass hat was the doing of Scotts. Their setup featured sods from Major League ballparks, as well as an opportunity to take your picture with an All-Star jersey, which earned fans the green, foam grass hats.
Using just the eyeball test, there seemed to be more popularity in the taco-hawk, but Scotts' booth was fresh out of grass hats early in the afternoon. A more scientific approach was needed to gauge which way the public was leaning.
A quartet of Cubs fans from Wisconsin was carrying a stack of both varieties. The McDermotts -- two Dans and a Joey -- and their friend Dave Knack were visiting FanFest from the Badger State, and they voiced both sides of the debate. On one hand, they said, the taco hat's experience was much more fun: stealing a base and getting a taco. But the grass hat had a more practical use: It could be appropriately worn while mowing the lawn.
"Either way, you look like a dork with everyone else," the elder Dan McDermott said.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.