07/14/09 7:12 PM ET
Players take in Red Carpet spectacle
All-Stars and past greats hobnob with fans in St. Louis
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
What did he think of going to the 80th All-Star Game this way?
"It depends on what city you're in -- if they don't like the Yankees, it's not so good," Jeter said with a big grin. "Last year was good."
Whereas "last year" was through the busy streets of New York City, this time around was through downtown St. Louis and what Jeter found was that in this town it did not matter which team a player represented. It was nothing but love as 66 All-Stars and their families boarded big Chevy trucks from the corner of Market and Fourth Streets, down Market to Eighth Street and on to Stan Musial Drive and Gate 3 of Busch Stadium, where the American League will square off against the National League.
"We have to be some of the best fans in the country," Brian Gibson of O'Fallon, Ill., said after watching Jeter and other stars go by. "It means a lot to us because baseball is Americana. One thing about baseball relative to other sports is that you're usually kind of far away, so this is nice to be able to see today's All-Stars up close like this."
Gibson was watching the parade near the start along with his son, the very aptly named Josh Gibson.
"It's a dream come true being able to enjoy that with our sons," Gibson said, standing along with a friend and his son. "But I think you really should ask Josh."
So Josh, what did you think?
"It was awesome," he said. "I liked when Albert Pujols came by. And Jeter."
The other boy they were with actually caught a pitch from Blue Jays All-Star Roy Halladay. It was one of those stuffed toy baseballs that the passengers were tossing into the crowd.
That's pretty nice to be able to say you caught a pitch from the American League starter as he was showing up for work to throw the first real pitch of the All-Star Game.
"It's exciting for everyone," Halladay said as he waited in the Hyatt lobby along with his wife and their two sons. "It brings us a little closer to the fans -- and that's a fun thing."
Halladay said he normally would get to the ballpark on a pitching day at 2 p.m. local time -- "by taxi." He said this would get him there at about the same time, "plus this game starts later."
Nevertheless, at the last minute it was determined that both starting pitchers would jump up to the front of their respective league's parade flotilla so that they would get to the ballpark as quickly as possible. But no one got ahead of Pujols. He was the first active All-Star in a vehicle.
Red Sox ace Josh Beckett walked past Halladay in the lobby and deadpanned: "Roy, I'm nervous."
Phillies All-Star Chase Utley said it's "exciting ... good to see the fans, especially in a baseball city like this one that loves players so much. It's good for the city, good for everyone."
In addition to watching the All-Stars show up for their big night, fans saw Cardinals Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter. Stan Musial was not able to attend.
"We always talk about creating an 'All-Star moment' for any city," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president of business for Major League Baseball. "It's to get people closer to the players they love. How much closer can you get than four feet away? I'd say it's kind of a combination of red carpet and Mardi Gras. [It is] fun for everyone involved."
The tradition began in 2005 in Detroit. Jeter missed that Midsummer Classic, so for him the past four years of riding this way started in 2006 when they crossed the Roberto Clemente Bridge to PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
"It's always a nice thing," Jeter said. "People like it."
Staying at the Hyatt made it easy for the All-Stars to hit the parade this year. They had brunch on the fourth floor and then, in a very orchestrated fashion, came down the elevator in sequences so they would simply board their trucks at the door with little waiting. They were still able to hobnob with other stars, but most importantly they were able to involve their families in an important event -- a big deal considering that for so much of their year their teammates tend to be their extended families.
With the outcome of the All-Star Game again determining which league will have home-field advantage in the World Series, the World Series Trophy crafted by Tiffany & Company was on display as part of the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show. As usual, it brought up the rear of the parade and created quite a ruckus among the fans who watched it being loaded into the flatbed of the last truck. They remember winning that hardware just three seasons ago.
The 30 winners of the Major League Baseball and People Magazine "All-Stars Among Us" campaign, which recognizes individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways, took part in the celebration as well. Four of them rode in the last vehicle with the trophy. The rest of them all rode in the first four trucks of the parade. Then they were to be honored on the field in a lavish pregame ceremony paying tribute to their public service.
As part of the ongoing commitment by Major League Baseball to environmental sustainability, MLB again worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), implementing measures to reduce the event's carbon emissions and making it more environmentally-friendly.
For the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show, the players traveled on a red carpet made from 100 percent recycled fiber and produced by electricity produced by 100 percent renewable wind and solar power. Chevy provided Flex-Fuel Chevy Silverado vehicles for the players and their families.
Additionally, an all-star team of fashion and beauty experts signed on to dress a group of players' wives exclusively for the event. Fashion house Nicole Miller provided dresses and parade attire, and celebrity make-up artist Bobbi Brown was on-site prior to the parade for beauty treatment and application.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.