The traveling baseball carnival known as All-Star FanFest comes to San Francisco from July 6-10, bringing baseball history, interactive exhibits and an opportunity to meet some of the legends of the game in an affordable, fan-friendly supplement to the Midsummer Classic. Here are The Examiner’s 10 must-see attractions.
FanFest Auction (first floor)
Babe Ruth’s game-used autographed bat from the 1923 World Series (with an estimated value of more than $150,000) and Willie Mays’ 1958 Giants home jersey ($30,000-$40,000) are two of many big-ticket items to be auctioned off. For the not-so-high rollers, there is a silent auction with more affordable memorabilia as well.
Hometown Heroes (first floor)
A tribute to the history of baseball in San Francisco. There will be a timeline tracing the history of the Giants’ franchise from New York to The City, team photos and other memorabilia. One unique item is a 5-foot statue of comic strip image Charlie Brown in a Giants uniform — the only time the character ever appeared not wearing his trademark “zig-zag” shirt.
Major League Baseball (first floor)
The championship trophies for both the World Series and All-Star Game will be on display at this booth, along with information about the league’s Web site (www.mlb.com). This will also feature the inaugural Hispanic Baseball exhibit, which will include a graphic display and information on the Latino Legends team that was named last year.
Major League Baseball Legends (first floor)
Two legendary players at a time will be available to sign autographs and chat with fans from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day atthis station. Vida Blue, Will Clark, Rollie Fingers, Ferguson Jenkins, Harmon Killebrew, Fred Lynn, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry (among others) are all expected to make appearances.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (first floor)
Seven traveling cases from Cooperstown will be on display here. Five will focus on general baseball history and feature what Hall of Fame Vice President and Chief Curator Ted Spencer called “the usual suspects” of gloves, hats, uniforms and other memorabilia from famous players and events. The other two cases will relate specifically to the history of the Giants franchise and memorable moments from its time in San Francisco.
The Negro Leagues (first floor)
Replica hats, jerseys, lockers and more will be displayed in this exhibit dedicated to a league that rose in prominence in the 1880s and lasted until 1951. Blacks were prohibited from playing in Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson crossed the color barrier in 1947, and bios and information on Negro League legends including Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and James “Cool Papa” Bell will provide insight for fans. One highlight: a blown-up image of Buck O’Neill in his playing days that the Kansas City Monarchs great had signed.
Video batting cages (second floor)
Fans who have dreamed about stepping into the batter’s box against Roger Clemens or Barry Zito can simulate the experience in this exhibit. A video screen projects a life-size image of pro pitchers, and the ball comes out of a hole right where the pitcher would actually release it. One piece of advice: Don’t dig in too comfortably against Clemens, even if it’s just a computer-generated experience.
You call the play (second floor)
“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” Ross Hodges’ call of Bobby Thomson’sfamed 1951 home run that lifted the franchise over the Brooklyn Dodgers and into the World Series has become ingrained in baseball lore. At this station, fans can make their own calls to some of the game’s most famous plays and bring home the recording.
The Diamond (third floor)
Baseball legends will continually be cycling through this replicated field to interact with fans. Willie Mays will host a question-and-answer session, Cal Ripken Jr. will lead drills, blind baseball players will demonstrate “beep ball” and former members of the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League (which inspired the film “A League of Their Own”) will speak and take questions.
Home Run Derby/FanFest Fielding Practice (third floor)
“The whole idea [of Home Run Derby] is to hit the ball over the wall,” said Morgan Littlefield, the director of special events for Major League Baseball. Fans bat off pitching machines on a scaled-down field and try to replicate the feeling of hitting one out. On an adjacent space, people can jog around an outfield to shag a few fly balls.
All-star game timeline
1933: Babe Ruth hits the first homer in the inaugural All-Star Game, leading the American League to a 4-2 win at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
1934: Giants ace Carl Hubbell strikes out Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession. The AL still wins 9-7, however.
1941: Ted Williams hits the first walkoff homer in All-Star history to lead the AL to a come-from-behind 7-5 win in Detroit. The NL led 5-3 entering the bottom of the ninth.
1955: Stan Musial hits a walkoff homer in the 14th inning as the NL erases a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5 in Milwaukee.
1968: The Giants’ Willie Mays scores the only run in a game that exemplifies “The Year of the Pitcher.” Teammate Juan Marichal is one of five NL pitchers who combine to shut out the AL on just three hits.
1971: Reggie Jackson’s home run travels an estimated 520 feet and hits a light tower in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium as the AL breaks a nine-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory.
1989: Bo Jackson — at the height of his fame — makes a great catch in the top of the first, then crushes a homer to dead center off the Giants’ Rick Reuschel in the bottom of the inning. The AL wins 5-3 in Anaheim.
1997: Sandy Alomar Jr. stars in front of the hometown Cleveland crowd, hitting a two-run homer in the seventh in a 3-1 AL win. Since that game, the AL hasn’t lost in All-Star competition.
2002: Commissioner Bud Selig’s flabbergasted facial expression after the 11th inning is the embarrassing and enduring image of a game that ends in a 7-7 tie after the two teams run out of players.
2003: This game marked the first time the league that won the All-Star Game would earn home-field advantage in the World Series. Hank Blalock’s two-run homer in the eighth gives the AL a 7-6 comeback win.
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