Hey Twinkie Towners! I know my colleague, Andrew Bryz-Gornia, wrote about the game from the point of view of a worker at the stadium. I just wanted to give my own account of what the festivities were like, as a fan, because it's a bit different. By that I mean, as a fan, the All-Star Game in Minneapolis FREAKING RULED.
I was and am extremely lucky to have attended most of the festivities surrounding the game, as well as the game itself. I just wanted to share some of the things I saw at the events.
The All-Star Game festivities started off with Fan Fest on Friday night. Personally, I did not make it to Fan Fest until Sunday morning--but wow! If you were a baseball fan in the Twin Cities this weekend and skipped Fan Fest, you missed out. It was sort of like Twins Fest, but about twice as cool. It was completely worth the $10, and then some.
Fan Fest was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center and took up all three domes in the building. Like Twins Fest, they had many legendary players there to sign autographs each day; but unlike Twins Fest, all of the autographs were free, and there were all kinds of different players there, not just Twins. They also had museum-like set ups about the Negro Leagues, international baseball, the women's league, the Hall of Fame, memorabilia, the Twins, and baseball in Minnesota. They were all very great. No skimping on quality!
But you know what put Fan Fest over the top? They literally carpeted the whole place in green carpeting that looked like grass. I know that seems like a pretty dumb thing, but it made the whole event seem to regal. I loved it!
Just as Twins Fest does, Fan Fest had individual baseball collectors selling stuff at their own booths, and there were many interesting items. I wish I took more pictures, but these were just a couple of the most interesting pieces I saw and tweeted about.
Look what I found pic.twitter.com/7pbhbzYv3F— myjah (@KirbysLeftEye) July 14, 2014
I also sat and watched Frank Thomas and Joe Mauer talk for about a half hour on one of the broadcasting stages. Frank is such an awesome guy! He talked a lot about how much the Twins-White Sox rivalry meant to him, and how much he loved the Metrodome. Thomas hit both his first and 500th home run at the Dome.
I sadly missed him, but Jacque Jones had an awesome time too!
@KirbysLeftEye No worries I had a great time!!!! Minnesota fans are the best.— Jacque Jones (@JacqueJones11) July 17, 2014
I went to Fan Fest three times--Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. They gave out mini-bobbleheads of Tony Oliva to the first 1,000 fans on Monday, and mini-bobbleheads of Joe Mauer to the first 1,000 fans on Tuesday. Fan Fest opens at 9am, so most of us bobblehead freaks were down there pretty early both days. Hence, the lines both of those days were long, but most got their doll.
Also, both days, the first thing you saw as you entered was Joe Mauer standing in front of the giant baseball, welcoming all the fans. If he had been playing in the game too, I can't even imagine how tired he would be! I was tired even just getting those bobbleheads with my Mom.
I watched Joe close-up on Tuesday morning when he got up on stage and was interviewed by the FSN guys. As soon as he got off-stage, he asked a little girl, "Did I sound ok?"
Futures' Game and Celebrity Softball
On Sunday night, Target Field hosted the Futures' Game for baseball's best prospects, followed by the Celebrity softball game, which included great athletes like Jim Thome and Adrian Peterson.
The Futures' Game was pretty cool. Three Twins prospects played in it--pitcher Jose Berrios (who started the game for the world team), first baseman Kennys Vargas, and pitcher Alex Meyer (who had a very quick outing). Even though it wasn't the All-Star Game or even the Home Run Derby, excitement among fans was high. The American Team, managed by Tom Kelly, beat out the World Team, managed by Bert Blyleven.
The Celebrity Softball Game was played after the Futures' Game. Special shorter fences were brought in to make the game more exciting for the not-necessarily usual baseball players. The game had a very light hearted feel, and it was very nice to see former baseball legends like Jim Thome, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, and Rollie Fingers take the field. Other participants included Adrian Peterson (who made an awesome catch), women's softball pitching legend Jennie Finch, and many others. To be honest? I'd been at Fan Fest and Target Field for about 8 hours by this point. I was a bit "tired", but I can assure you it was a good time. At least I think so.
Home Run Derby
On Monday night Target Field hosted the Home Run Derby, with the biggest story most obviously being Justin Morneau's first return to Target Field since being traded at the end of last August. Even when all the players were just warming up, whenever they showed Justin Morneau on the jumbotron, fans cheered some of the loudest I've ever heard them. Morneau went last for the National League, and fans were freaking LOUD. Justin didn't make it to the next stage, but I don't really blame him. I was so light headed myself after cheering and watching Justin I felt like I was going to pass out. It was very emotional for everyone, I think.
My seats were in the left field bleachers for the Home Run Derby, so with all the right-handers, I was really hoping to catch a ball. I didn't, but that's ok. Also, no, I didn't try out the Self-Serve beer machines. Heck, I don't think I even ever walked by them. The stadium was so incredibly crowded it took me at least a half an hour to walk from Gate 34 to my seats in left field (normally that walk takes about two minutes). I would have been late for the derby had rain not delayed it an hour or so. I even liked the delay, however--they played old videos of Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew.
In-between hitters, they brought out Frisbee-catching dogs to entertain fans. Not going to lie--they were entertaining as hell!
Of course, Yoneis Cepedes eventually won the derby, becoming the first player to win back-to-back since Ken Griffey Jr. I was hoping for Justin Morneau, Brian Dozier, or even Joey Bats--but alas. It was still quite entertaining.
Red Carpet Show
Before the All-Star Game, ever since 2005, MLB has done the Red Carpet Show. I thought this was a very neat event, especially because it allowed everyone a chance to get in with the All-Star Game festivities for free. They also carpeted the entire Nicolette Mall with red carpet, and it looked so regal. I'm sorry, but I just really love carpeting.
I missed the first half of the parade, but apparently Derek Jeter went first. All of the players rode in the back of Chevrolet pick-up trucks (I'm assuming from Billy's place). Most of the players I saw, because I was late, were National League players. I got the ever-enthusiastic Yasiel Puig to point at me in the crowd by yelling his name. My favorite part of the parade, though, (and the thing I was most hoping to see), was hometown hero Pat Neshek come down the street with his wife, Stephanee, and his young son, Hoyt Robert. He was the last one to come down.
What it all came down to.
The All-Star Game was amazing. As a fan, it was not just like any other game. The atmosphere around me was more electric than even the post-season games at Target Field in 2010. Everyone was excited, and rightfully so.
Jeff Samardzija, wandering around as an All-Star but with no team was pretty dang hilarious. So awkward I don't even know what paragraph to put this in.
There were a couple really memorable moments in the game. Obviously, when Derek Jeter first came up to bat. Then again, when Jeter was pulled from the game. I don't even know how long we were clapping while he was going around hugging everyone and their Mom. All I know is that by the end of it I felt like my arms were going to fall off. Even my mother, who had spent the entire week bitching about Jeter, was standing and clapping and looking at me like, "You better get the fuck up and clap."
From what I hear, the TV broadcast talked a crap-load about Jeter, which isn't surprising. As a fan there? That was a big moment, but not the biggest for us.
It was awesome seeing Miggy hit a home run. I turned to my Mom and just blurted out "ITSN'T IT AWESOME WE GET TO CHEER FOR MIGGY?!?". Trout put on a damn fine performance too, and it was amusing watching him try to pick between the Corvette and the Truck for his MVP prize. I only wish they had presented him with a little red Corvette!
But there were bigger moments. Specifically, when Pat Neshek was announced, and mostly when Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki came into the game to close it out.
I've been to perhaps a couple hundred games at Target Field, but seeing Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki run out to pitch and catch the 9th inning was one of the greatest baseball moments I've had the luck and pleasure to witness first hand. Everyone was on their feet. Everyone was chanting our hometown boy's, Perkin's, name. I have no idea how it played out on TV, but it was maybe even twice as loud as either of Jeter's ovations. It was absolutely awesome, and I am so proud of our city.
Did I try any of the special All-Star food? No, sorry. I just had a brat. The cheap kind.
Did I have an awesome time at the All-Star Game? Yes! And sorry. I wish I could have taken all of you here at Twinkie Town!!!
But I hope everyone, here at the stadium or not, had fun! We did our little city proud!
Kudos to Cincinnati. You guys are going to have a great time!