07/09/10 12:05 PM ET
All-Star FanFest kicks off in Anaheim
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
It kicked off Friday morning at 8:40 PT with the opening ceremonies for FanFest, which is a five-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center that serves as the launch for MLB All-Star Week that culminates with the 81st MLB All-Star Game, to be held on July 13 at Angel Stadium.
Hall of Famer and FanFest spokesperson Rod Carew was there for the ribbon cutting, along with Angels owner Arte Moreno, Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl, city of Anaheim Mayor Curtis Pringle and MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan.
"It's a great experience for all fans," Carew said. "This a great game. I think what Major League Baseball has done, instead of just focusing on the All-Star Game and the players, it's also for fans to be able to come here and participate here at FanFest."
FanFest is the world's largest interactive baseball fan event, featuring more than 40 baseball attractions and exhibits at the 450,000 square-foot Anaheim Convention Center.
FanFest, now in its 20th year, features attraction such as life-sized video batting and pitching cages, clinics from Major League legends, free autograph sessions with former Angels, MLB legends and Hall of Famers, memorabilia and much more.
"I think this event really appeals to families because there's something for everyone here -- whether you're 7 years old or 70 years old," said MLB director of special events Jackie Secaira-Cotto. "Baseball is a sport that connects generations."
It also features plenty of history lessons with the National Baseball Hall of Fame bringing 104 artifacts from Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Negro Leagues exhibit, which honors 35 players who played in the Negro Leagues.
And there's also the Hometown Heroes exhibit that honors the host Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with 100 different players featured as part of the exhibit.
"It's a history lesson for all the kids who come through FanFest," said Carew, who played in 18 All-Star Games. "There's so much they're going to see and learn. I just tell moms and dads to bring them to FanFest and to experience it, because it only comes here every once in a while."
It will also feature plenty of current and former Major Leaguers, including Angels All-Star center fielder Torii Hunter, who is also a spokesperson for the event.
Hunter, along with other big leaguers such as the Twins' Joe Mauer and the Rays' Evan Longoria, are scheduled to appear on Monday, with a chance for fans to get autographs and participate in a baseball clinic run by Hunter.
"MLB All-Star FanFest is a family event that brings people closer to the sport and I am honored to be a part of it," Hunter said. "I know it will be an experience fans will remember for the rest of their lives."
The event will also feature plenty of former Angels such as Tim Salmon, Jim Fregosi, Doug DeCinces, Wally Joyner, Clyde Wright, Chili Davis and Fred Lynn.
Several Hall of Famers are also scheduled to attend, such as Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Dave Winfield, Earl Weaver, Dick Williams, Harmon Killebrew, Rollie Fingers, Lou Brock, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Luis Aparicio, Bob Feller, Paul Molitor, Juan Marichal, Goose Gossage, Orlando Cepeda and Gary Carter.
All FanFest attractions are free with the price of admission, including autograph sessions with current and former greats. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under (children two and under are admitted free), senior citizens and military personnel. It's open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT from Friday to Monday and open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Tickets can be purchased at allstargame.com.
"Everything is included in the price except for food and souvenirs," Secaira-Cotto said. "So you don't pay for autographs, you don't pay for going into the batting cages and so on. Everything is included, so it's a great deal."
The event simply kicks off a week of events leading up to Tuesday's All-Star Game at Angel Stadium, including Sunday morning's All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run, which will be attended by former Angels greats Bobby Grich and Carew.
And then there's Taco Bell All-Star Sunday, starting with the XM All-Star Futures Game, which will begin at 5 p.m. PT and can be viewed live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and MLB.TV. And after the Futures Game, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will be played at Angel Stadium.
Monday features the State Farm Home Run Derby, which is part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, and will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 3D and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 5 p.m. PT
Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Brewers outfielder Corey Hart, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz and Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells are scheduled to participate in the event.
And then Disneyland helps kick off the All-Star Game festivities on Tuesday with the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy. The event, which begins at 11:30 a.m. PT, is scheduled to feature all Major League Baseball All-Stars as well as the AL and NL All-Star team managers, as they make their way down an approximately 6,000 square-yard red carpet stretching three quarters of a mile from the corner of South Harbor Blvd. at Convention Way to Disney Way before continuing down Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland park.
It all leads up to the 81st MLB All-Star Game, which begins at 5 p.m. PT and will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.