07/14/08 5:30 PM ET
Jeter's attendance highlights FanFest
Yankees past and present attend event, interact with fans
By Samantha Newman / MLB.com
There were plenty of distractions at the Jacob K. Javits Center on Monday afternoon. People were taking swings at video batting cages and admiring a collection of Hall of Fame memorabilia.
But a little before 2 p.m. ET, a crowd formed around one of the entranceways, and an increasing number of people added to the swarm when they heard who had arrived.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter made an appearance at DHL All-Star FanFest on Monday, and the camera flashes never stopped coming. Jeter made his way to the Aquafina Diamond to act as a special guest coach for the pitch, hit and run clinic.
Fans in the bleachers remained standing for the entire half-hour clinic to watch the All-Star infielder interact with the children.
Jeter got down on his knees to throw some balls for the soft-toss hitting drill. He also stood at home plate during the sliding portion of the clinic, ready with a glove to tag kids out.
During some fielding practice, Jeter called 13-year-old Scott McNaly over to give some tips. He told McNaly that because he's tall for his age, he should get lower to the ground when goes after a ball.
But McNaly didn't hear any of that.
"I wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying," McNaly said. "I was just watching him. I couldn't believe it."
The experience came as a pleasant surprise for McNaly, who wasn't originally scheduled to participate in the Jeter clinic. Earlier in the day, he had lost his glove that was filled with autographs, and he was allowed to attend the clinic as a sort of consolation.
McNaly said talking to Jeter completely made up for losing the glove.
"I thought I was just going to be near him," he said. "But then I actually got to meet him, and that was awesome."
Just a few hours prior to Jeter's arrival, another Yankees great, Bernie Williams, got in on the clinic action. The former outfielder participated in the stretching warmups and even took his turn sliding into home plate.
"It just brings back great memories of when I used to be a kid," Williams said. "My dad used to take us to the Little League field and play baseball with us, hit us fly balls. Whenever I see kids playing, I always try to sneak a peek."
Williams also served as a celebrity judge for the Baby Ruth "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" video contest on Monday morning.
The contest challenged fans to create videos of themselves singing their versions of the familiar song, with the chance to lead the crowd in singing during the seventh-inning stretch at the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday.
The three finalists came to FanFest and their videos were played before they each performed an a cappella rendition of the tune.
Adam Wilbur of Medford, N.Y., encouraged the crowd to sing along as he took his turn, and the way he engaged the crowd proved to be a big factor when he was selected as the grand-prize winner.
"I'm so excited right now," he said. "This is the most fun I've ever had. It's come such a long way from making the video in the backyard with my brother. It's really taken on a life of its own."
In the video, Wilbur plays a ukulele while his brother plays a tuba, dubbed a "Baby Ruth-ulele" and a "Baby Ruth-ophone," respectively. Rocked out might be a better description of how Wilber handled the ukulele.
A teacher at Longwood High School, Wilbur has taken some digs and teasing about playing the ukulele.
"I get laughed at for playing it," he said. "But it got me to Yankee Stadium, so it's the coolest thing in the world right now."
Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.