07/05/12 7:35 PM ET
All-Star events deliver wide variety of activities for fans
By Vinnie Duber / MLB.com
All-Star activities kick off on Friday with the start of MLB FanFest.
Dubbed "the world's largest baseball theme park," FanFest has a convention-like atmosphere and offers something for every fan. Kids can enjoy attempting to steal a base, seeing how fast they can throw and participating in clinics with Royals legends. Adults can view exhibits from the Hall of Fame, shop for memorabilia or meet with baseball legends.
Of course, these activities aren't exclusive to these age groups.
Other attractions include baseball's trophies, a Negro Leagues exhibit assembled with help from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, a video-game area, autographs from Hall of Fame players, batting cages and a replica clubhouse featuring question-and-answer sessions with former and current Major League players.
FanFest opens its doors at 9 a.m. CT on Friday at the Kansas City Convention Center and closes at 8 p.m.
Friday's events feature the opening ceremonies, the first of three mascot Home Run Derbies and clinics with Royals legends Dennis Leonard and Willie Aikens. Friday is also the first of five themed days at FanFest: Military Appreciation Day.
While this year's All-Stars won't be coming to Kansas City for a few more days, All-Stars from yesteryear will be attending the Kansas City T-Bones' game. The T-Bones host "Turn Back the Clock Night," and former Royals All-Stars John Mayberry, Amos Otis, Freddie Patek, Hal McRae, Willie Wilson and Frank White will be on hand for a special salute. There will also be a postgame autograph session with the players, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Saturday, July 7
FanFest continues with more clinics, question-and-answer sessions and autograph opportunities with Royals legends and Hall of Famers. It is also the second themed day: Kid's Day, where the first 1,000 children receive a Sluggerrr figurine. FanFest is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Starting at noon at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon Robinson, will be on hand to sign copies of her children's book. Later in the day, the museum will host "Buck, BBQ & Baseball," an event featuring food and live music. The event is hosted by Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II and will feature award-winning BBQ teams preparing food. Tickets are $150, and proceeds benefit the museum and the Financial Literacy for Children Foundation.
Sunday, July 8
The third themed day is Kansas City Tribute Day. FanFest is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Things really ramp up as the action comes to Kauffman Stadium. Before that though, downtown Kansas City will be full of runners participating in the All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run. It starts at 7:30 a.m., with the one-mile fun run beginning a half-hour later. The starting line is right outside the Sprint Center, with the course running down Grand Boulevard and around Union Station before wrapping up down Main Street and finishing in the heart of the Power and Light District.
Several Royals legends, including Mike Sweeney, George Brett and Jeff Montgomery, have set up teams and will be participating in the event. The event benefits several charities, with 100 percent of the net proceeds going to Susan G. Komen For the Cure, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer.
Beginning at noon, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will host a town-hall event with former Negro Leagues players Minnie Minoso and George Altman, two of the seven living players who played in the Negro Leagues and went on to become MLB All-Stars. The event is free with paid admission to the museum.
The event coincides with the museum's exhibit on former Negro Leagues players who became MLB All-Stars. It's entitled "They Were All-Stars" and is open now and runs through Sept. 9 at the museum.
Later in the day, the All-Star celebration moves to Kauffman Stadium, where at 4 p.m. the stars of tomorrow will be on display in the SiriusXM Futures Game. Two teams -- split into U.S. and World squads -- are stockpiled with top Minor League talent from every big league club.
The Futures Game will have particular importance for the Royals, who will have three of their top prospects on display for the home fans. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi and outfielder Wil Myers will compete for the U.S. team, while pitcher Yordano Ventura is on the World team's roster. Also, Brett will manage the U.S. team with coaches from the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, the Royals' Triple-A affiliate.
Following the Futures Game will be the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, featuring not only some of the game's all-time greats, but also celebrities from sports, television, music and entertainment.
Royals greats Brett, Bo Jackson and Sweeney will play hosts as members of the legends contingent. Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield, plus former All-Stars Joe Carter and Mike Piazza, will also be on hand.
Making up the celebrity delegation will be TV stars Eric Stonestreet and Jon Hamm, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, Kansas Jayhawks basketball coach Bill Self, U.S. soccer player Carlos Bocanegra and American Idol winner David Cook, plus many others.
Taco Bell All-Star Sunday at Kauffman Stadium will conclude with a fireworks show.
Also on Sunday night, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce will host an event called "Big KC's Salute to Baseball" at 7 p.m. The event takes place at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and will feature a discussion of the history of business and baseball in Kansas City, with a special tribute to former Royals owner Ewing Kauffman. A panel of players from the 1985 World Series team will also be on hand. The panel will include former Royals McRae, White, Bret Saberhagen and Jim Sundberg, as well as former Royals general manager John Schuerholz and Royals announcers Fred White and Denny Matthews.
Monday, July 9
It's the fourth themed day: Legacy Day. FanFest is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The All-Stars themselves will descend on Kansas City for Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, highlighted by the State Farm Home Run Derby. The annual how-far-can-you-crush-it contest starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
While no Royals will be participating in the Derby, the American League squad is stacked with heavy hitters. Yankees second baseman and AL captain Robinson Cano will be back to defend his crown from last season, and joining him are Detroit's Prince Fielder, Toronto's Jose Bautista and the Angels' Mark Trumbo.
For the National League, former Royal Carlos Beltran highlights the participants. The now-St. Louis slugger mashed 60 home runs at Kauffman Stadium as a member of the Royals from 1998 to 2004 and recently hit his first as a visitor on June 24 in a Cardinals win. Dodgers star Matt Kemp -- who was voted to the team but won't play in the All-Star Game on Tuesday because of an injury -- Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez are scheduled to participate for the NL.
Fans can come before the Derby starts, though, and watch the All-Star teams take batting practice at Kauffman Stadium. Gates open at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10
The day of the All-Star Game is the final day of FanFest. It will be All-Star Legends Day at FanFest, and doors are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will host a special discussion with Ron Rabinovitz called "Letters from Jackie." Rabinovitz will discuss his almost 20-year friendship with Jackie Robinson. The discussion begins at 11 a.m.
For the eighth straight season, MLB will hold the All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet. Beginning at 1 p.m., the All-Stars will ride through Country Club Plaza in Chevrolet Silverado trucks. Brett will act as the parade's grand marshal, and the event will be nationally telecast on MLB Network.
Following the ceremonies downtown, the action will return to Kauffman Stadium for the main event: the 83rd All-Star Game, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on FOX.
For those unable to get inside the ballpark, there will be several public community watch parties hosted by the city. Locations include 18th & Vine, Crown Center, Guadalupe Center, the Kansas City Zoo and Zona Rosa.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.