07/07/05 11:30 PM ET
What you'll like about All-Star weekend
Midsummer Classic highlights five days of festivities
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
And it isn't just one July night of baseball. It's a whole long weekend of celebration.
Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game is coming to Detroit's Comerica Park-- and to MLB.com, where you can find exclusive video highlights, interviews and programs -- on Tuesday.
But before that, fans of our national pastime will be treated to a wall-to-wall hardball party that begins today and doesn't end until the final out of the Midsummer Classic.
Here's a rundown of all the All-Star events available in the Motor City on this whale of a weekend.
Starting Friday at 9 a.m. ET, baseball's annual interactive fan experience will be under way and bigger than ever.
This year's John Hancock All-Star FanFest is expected to attract over 100,000 fans. FanFest will take place in downtown Detroit's Cobo Center, which houses the North American International Auto Show each January. The building features 300,000 square feet of exhibition space for the following attractions:
State-of-the-art video batting cages, allowing fans to experience what it's like to hit against some of the game's greatest pitchers, and a bullpen where fans can pitch to video images of feared sluggers.
A simulated broadcast studio where fans can add their own play-by-play calls to great events in the game.
The Diamond, where hourly contests and seminars will take place. It'll also feature a mascot home run derby pitting Tigers mascot Paws against other feared, furry sluggers.
A collection of artifacts and photos from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Hometown Heroes, a tribute to Tigers greats from the past and present.
MLB Legends, free personalized autographs from Major League Baseball greats.
FanFest Cyber Ballpark, a chance to test your skills on MLB computer and video games.
FanFest will be open until 6 p.m. ET Friday, and it will stay open the next three days from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. On All-Star Tuesday, it'll open at 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at detroittigers.com and MLB.com, by phone at 313-25-TIGER or 248-645-6666, or in person at the Detroit Tigers box office, the Joe Louis Arena box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
FanFest also will be available at MLB.com, with live streaming video from the event airing from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every night. This will include Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig's Town Hall Chat at 1:30 p.m. ET on All-Star Tuesday. In this live chat, Selig will answer questions submitted online as well as some from the audience.
Sunday: Futures Game and Legends and Celebrities Softball Classic
The XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game, which features the top Minor League prospects in a United States vs. World exhibition contest, will take place at Comerica Park at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, two days prior to the All-Star Game, and can be watched on ESPN2 or heard on MLB Radio.
Powerpop combo The Romantics, best known for the 1979 hit "What I Like About You," will play a 30-minute set before the Futures Game, which showcases baseball's high-ceiling prospects.
The rosters are filled with several first-round picks and many Top 50 prospects, including big-time power hitters and pitchers. A total of 11 Futures Game players appeared on MLB.com's Top 50 prospect list, which was published during Spring Training.
The World team features players from six countries -- the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Venezuela, Australia and South Korea -- as well as Puerto Rico and Guam.
The United States boasts seven of the Top 50 players: first basemen Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks) and Daric Barton (A's), outfielders Jeff Francouer (Braves), Jeremy Hermida (Marlins), Lastings Milledge (Mets) and Delmon Young (Devil Rays), and pitcher Zach Duke (Pirates).
The World team has four from the Top 50 list: shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Red Sox) and pitchers Francisco Liriano (Twins), Yusmeiro Petit (Mets) and Merkin Valdez (Giants).
And continuing a cool technological tradition, MLB.com will once again have a reporter in each dugout fielding e-mail questions from fans and getting real-time responses from players on the World and U.S. teams during the Futures Game.
Right after the field is cleared at the end of the Futures Game, DJ-turned-rocker Uncle Kracker will perform two songs on the field before leaving the stage for the Legends and Celebrities Softball Game, which is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Celebrities scheduled to play in the game include the Detroit Red Wings' Chris Chelios, actor Billy Bob Thornton, Richard Schiff of "The West Wing," "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard and a trio of Olympic gold medalists: swimmer Amanda Beard and softball players Jennie Finch and Lovie Jung.
On the Legends side, Ernie Banks, Bo Jackson, Ozzie Smith, Rollie Fingers, Dave Winfield and Andre Dawson will be among those suiting up. Former Tigers Willie Horton, Lou Whitaker, Willie Hernandez and Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, as well as University of Michigan standouts Chris Webber and Jim Abbott, will serve as local representatives.
Monday: World Baseball Classic press conference and Home Run Derby
Monday morning will bring great news to the baseball world -- literally. Major League Baseball will reveal all the details for the much-anticipated World Baseball Classic, a 16-nation tournament featuring the world's best players competing on behalf of their home countries next March at various sites in the United States, Asia and Latin America.
Nations expected to participate are the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, Cuba, the Netherlands, South Africa, Italy, Panama, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Korea.
This global theme will continue Monday night at one of the most popular events of the weekend, the annual CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby, which takes place in Comerica Park at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN and broadcast live on MLB Radio.
This year's new format has participants representing eight countries. You'll see Mark Teixeira of the U.S., Ivan Rodriguez of Puerto Rico, David Ortiz of the Dominican Republic, Jason Bay of Canada, Carlos Lee of Panama, Bobby Abreu of Venezuela, Andruw Jones of Curacao -- a protectorate of the Netherlands -- and one player to be named.
Rodriguez, the Detroit Tigers catcher who will be the sentimental favorite, has a warning for all local fans in attendance, though.
"I'm not a home-run hitter," Rodriguez said. "I'll just try to do the best that I can. I'll love to represent the people of Puerto Rico, but the people just need to know I'm not a power hitter."
Rockers Alter Bridge, who shared a stage with the Red Sox after their historic American League Division Series victory in 2004, will perform live at the Home Run Derby.
Tuesday: 76th All-Star Game
On Tuesday night, it's the event everyone's been waiting for: the Midsummer Classic, which will be shown live at 8 p.m. ET on FOX and can be heard live at MLB Radio.
The game features two teams of 32 of the best players in baseball, with Terry Francona managing the American League, Tony La Russa managing the National League and the players battling it out for more than just pride. For the third straight year, the winner of the game will be awarded home-field advantage in the World Series.
Starters for the AL, as voted in by the fans, are Teixeira at first base, Brian Roberts at second, Miguel Tejada at shortstop, Alex Rodriguez at third, outfielders Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero and Johnny Damon, catcher Jason Varitek and designated hitter Ortiz, who garnered the most votes of anyone in the game.
In the NL, the fans selected starters Derrek Lee at first base, Jeff Kent at second, David Eckstein at shortstop, Scott Rolen at third, and outfielders Jim Edmonds, Abreu and Carlos Beltran.
Every team will be represented, and the 32nd and final players on each roster, selected after the three-day Ameriquest All-Star Final Vote at MLB.com, were pitcher Roy Oswalt for the NL and outfielder Scott Podsednik for the AL.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.