All-Star Week has come and gone and with it, all the pomp and glory surrounding baseball's Mid-Summer Classic. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Fanfest, Futures Game, Legends and Celebrity Game and the Home Run Derby at Angel Stadium - the place where I was taught to love baseball. I sold my tickets to the All-Star Game itself in order to pay down a big chunk of my overall debt incurred from buying my ticket strips. Despite missing the "main event", my experience at the others was everything I hoped it would be and more. I honestly felt like a little kid again for a few moments this weekend. I'm thankful I was able to be there for the once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to see my team and my stadium host the baseball world.
I thought I would share my experience with the rest of you, so that those who weren't able to attend any of the events could at least get a little taste of the 2010 All-Star experience from a fan's point of view. I've made this slide show available for quick viewing as well as more details below the jump.
I attended Sunday's events with one of my friends who occasionally lurks around here on HH, but doesn't post very often. After polishing a 100 Oz. tower of beer at OC Sports Grill and seeing the World Cup Championship, we walked over to the stadium for the Futures Game. We met Hank Conger as well as Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer from the Royal's system and got all three to sign our tickets. I was lucky enough to catch this video of King Conger's first homer at Angel Stadium. (Note: there is semi-drunken yelling, so you might want to use headphones or mute at work.)
The Legends and Celebrity Game was actually quite entertaining primarily thanks to the antics of Finley, Bo, Ricky Henderson, Tim Salmon and Jennie Finch among others. Salmon received endless cheers from the crowd and finished the home run contest at the end by homering on all five of his swings. At least two of those softballs reached the actual stadium warning track. Chuck Finley and Fred Lynn got warm receptions as well. The day ended with a great fireworks display.
The Fanfest on Monday was a baseball fan's heaven, especially if you were an Angel fan. There were so many things to see and do here that it's really hard to pick out any single highlight. All of it was cool. My brother and I along with my two friends saw everything starting with immigration protesters outside the Convention Center to Spiezio's bat from Game 6 and Troy Glaus' jersey from Game 7, a game-used Carew jersey and artifacts dating back to the 18 and early 1900's. There was quite a bit of baseball history between the Hall of Fame Exhibit, Hometown Heroes Exhibit, Negro Leagues Exhibit and the Silent Auction. We waited in line for a while to get Bob Feller's autograph and saw Torii Hunter as he made a brief appearance and was mobbed by hordes of people.
I suppose the coolest moment was this: As my brother and I were leaving to go the the Derby, a Dodger fan and her husband stopped us and asked if we needed tickets. Apparently, they had spent over $150 at the Fanfest and were given two Upper View seats on the house. Trouble was they already had tickets like we did and were looking for someone who wanted to go to the Derby. I told her my friends were still inside the Convention Center without tickets but would definitely want to go. She gave them to me for free and I called my buddy to meet me by the ropes outside the Fanfest and handed him the tickets. So, by a stroke of luck and charity from a fellow baseball fan, two of my buddies got into the Home Run Derby for free at the last minute.
The Home Run Derby was awesome in person. Baseballs were hit to places in Angel Stadium that they likely never will be again until the Derby comes back. I know some people think it's a boring event on TV, but in person it really is a good show. I picked Corey Hart to win and he ended up letting me down in the second round, but he still put a bunch out in the first round. Torii was entertaining during interview breaks and said Ortiz was going to win because he had promised him a Happy Meal if he won. He also had help from Will Ferrel who I didn't previously know was an Angel fan. Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson and Frank Robinson also added a big screen interview.
Some other interesting highlights: As most of you have already heard, Halos Heaven is mentioned in the official All-Star Game Program. I thought that was pretty cool since it kind of proves that people in the baseball world pay attention to this site for reasons other than looking to kill time at work. Kind of makes you wonder who might be reading what you write, eh? Also, Joey Votto apparently goes by the alias of Yonder Alonso, a 1st Base prospect in the Reds system. Apparently, Votto was so angry at having to be added via the Final Vote that he decided to play in the Futures Game and All-Star Game in the same year. At least, that's what the Futures Game program will lead you to believe (see slide show above).
I watched the ASG itself on TV with the rest of the world, but came away from the events I did attend completely satisfied. There were no major problems that I encountered. I didn't even hit traffic on the way to the Fanfest/Derby. I was very impressed with the job our Angels and the City of Anaheim did hosting all of the All-Star events and hopefully the rest of you had the same experience. I also hope those who didn't get to go will at least get a bit of enjoyment from the photos I posted here.
Good-bye All-Star Game, GO ANGELS!!!