KANSAS CITY -- Ballparks normally have plenty of gimmicky bells and whistles used to get a crowd pumped up, but there's no need for any of that when it comes to the All-Star Game.
Music, on the other hand, has quite a necessary presence.
Kauffman Stadium was packed full long before the first pitch and the fans, needless to say, were in fine spirits. It made for a perfect setting in one of baseball's premier ballparks, and when the pregame ceremony opened with the playing of "Kansas City," a happy crowd willingly joined in the singing:
"I'm goin' to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come
Yes, goin' to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come
They got a crazy way a-lovin' an' a I wanna get me some."
The music portion of the ceremony continued with American Idol winner and singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips, who first performed a ballad version of "Stand by Me." He followed with his debut single, "Home."
As is the case at most baseball events, patriotism played a large role in the pregame ceremony. Servicemen and servicewomen unfurled a gigantic American flag that took up nearly the entire outfield, followed by a flyover by a stealth aircraft that looked as if it was going to graze the scoreboard beyond center field (it didn't).
The cameras then panned to the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seats, occupied on this night by the daughters of two very prominent men in baseball history. Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, and Linda Paige Shelby, daughter of Negro League star Satchel Paige, were joined in the Legacy Seats by Raeya Ponugoti, a fifth grader from Indianapolis. Ponugoti is one of two grand-prize winners of the Breaking Barriers contest. (The second winner will attend the World Series.)
The player introductions incited a variety of reactions from the crowd. On this night, they displayed an extra helping of graciousness to many, even those who had no ties to the Royals.
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, whose All-Star appearance marks the first game he's ever played at Kauffman Stadium, received a loud ovation. Jones announced his retirement before the season began and has been lauded at ballparks throughout baseball as he travels with the Braves. Jones also received a standing ovation when he pinch-hit in the sixth inning.
Royals manager Ned Yost, one of American League manager Ron Washington's coaches, was loudly cheered. His reception was topped by Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who looked endearingly overwhelmed at the extended ovation and the lingering camera shots on the big screen.
There apparently were also a lot of Cardinals fans in the stands, too. National League manager Tony La Russa, who led the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series championship and then retired, received a hearty ovation, as did the St. Louis All-Stars.
Hall of Famer and All-Star ambassador George Brett capped the pregame ceremony by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Butler. Former umpire and Kansas City resident Steve Palermo was recognized as he ceremoniously walked to the plate with the umpiring crew, and a few minutes later, it was time to play ball.