07/07/09 7:50 PM ET
Selig lays out All-Star Game vision
Commish stresses community service, charitable endeavors
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Selig trumpeted MLB's commitment to making the night a celebration of community service and charitable endeavors, as well as his excitement for the game itself. Prior to the All-Star Game, which is set for July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the league will honor the "All-Stars Among Us," people devoted to bettering their communities in each Major League city.
And of course, highlighting the pregame festivities will be an appearance by President Barack Obama, who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
It will mark the first time since 1976, when President Gerald Ford threw out the first pitch in Philadelphia, that a sitting President has had that honor at the All-Star Game.
"I think we've asked on a couple of occasions," Selig said. "But this year was so appropriate given the scope of our pregame program, which is very consistent with what President Obama has done. I wrote to him and he immediately accepted in a very warm and gracious way.
"I stressed the very thing I talked to [reporters] about -- community service and charitable initiatives -- and I really think that appealed to him. And, obviously, he is a baseball fan along with everything else, so it just worked out. So I'm delighted."
The Commissioner also fielded several questions regarding the connection between the All-Star Game and home-field advantage in the World Series, and avidly defended the setup. He argued that the arrangement has led to more spirited, competitive All-Star Games.
"Do I think this is good? You bet I do," Selig said.
Selig was joined on the call by broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, who will call the game, as well as Ed Goren, the president of FOX Sports. Selig repeatedly emphasized his enthusiasm for the theme of the evening, beyond simply the game itself.
"We've been planning for this for a long time," Selig said. "Given the economy and given the mood of the country, we have thought that focusing on both community service and charitable initiatives was something that we ought to do and something that baseball could play a role in."
Goren said that FOX hopes to be able to interview President Obama during the game, but that nothing has been solidified in that regard. He acknowledged that the presence of a sitting President creates some extra challenges for the network, but nothing that outweighs the appeal.
"It affects the setup a bit, similar to a Super Bowl where the Secret Service will lock down the facility leading up to the game," Goren said. "There may be some limitations as to camera movement. It certainly involves a lot more communication, but you know what? It's not a big deal. It will be seamless to the viewers, and trust me, it's well worth it."
However, the conversation on the call was much more about the big picture than about logistics. Baseball is excited about the impending Midsummer Classic, and eager to show off its best to the nation and the world.
"There have been some really, really wonderful moments in All-Star Games," Selig said. "It's clearly the most meaningful of all the All-Star Games. ... The idea of one night, seeing the best players in baseball all on the same field is just terrific."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.