Many exciting and interesting events and happenings took place prior to the annual MLB All-Star Game in addition to the midseason game itself, including encounters with lots of interesting folk. Here are just a few:
Mpls Convention Center, July 9
Over a dozen local kids from Phelps Park in South Minneapolis sneak-peeked at the All-Star FanFest. “This is a once-of-a-lifetime type thing for them,” explained Jason McGinley, who coaches baseball at the park. Jahvon Craven, age 13, for example, demonstrated his baseball skills in front of retired Twins great Tony Oliva.
Diversity was in full bloom as Blacks and other people of color were heavily involved at the five-day FanFest. “Thirty of us came from out of town” to work the event, said Chanetah Pauley, a security worker, culinary arts student, and singer from Kansas City, Mo. “I’ve been doing [security] for 10 years,” said Pauley, adding that her ultimate goal is to own her own restaurant.
“We’re 100 percent [diverse],” said Jacqueline Secaira-Cotto, MLB’s special events manager, who proudly listed her four-person staff, which includes herself, a Black man, an Asian and a Latina.
“This is the first time I’ve done this event,” admitted Aysia Moore, an MLB intern from Chicago and the only Black who held a FanFest manager position. “One of the attractions I have is the trading cards [exhibit].”
Aria Restaurant, downtown Mpls, July 9
Local “diverse partners” and MLB officials, including baseball’s highest-ranking female official, Senior Vice-President Wendy Lewis, at an invitation-only reception did the electric slide to the vocal styling of Universal Soul. “This is a party, but it is really an acknowledgement” of the local business owners of color, proclaimed MLB Supplier Diversity for Diverse Business Partners Senior Director Corey Smith.
St. Paul Midway, July 10
MLB brought in 10 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) youth teams and joined the two Minneapolis/St. Paul RBI clubs to participate in a “friendly, round-robin tournament” last week. “Major League Baseball covers all the expenses,” said MLB Community Affairs Vice President Thomas Brasuell. The players also helped prepare at least 30,000 meal packages for shipping to starving children worldwide for nonprofit Kids Against Hunger as part of a community service project at Concordia University in St. Paul.
Northeast Mpls, July 10
Twelve-year-old Robert Logan, Jr. of St. Paul got the surprise of his young life when he was selected to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Rod Carew, on the freshly installed artificial turf field now named after the Hall of Famer. “We surprised him,” said Giovonn Logan, Robert’s mother, of the secret she and her husband Robert, Sr. kept from their son. Robert’s cousin Travis Logan was among nine youth who participated in a pregame ceremony prior to Sunday’s All-Star Futures game. The U.S. Team defeated the World Team 3-2.
“I never dreamt that a field would be named after me or of being in the hall of fame,” admitted Carew. The street named for him was relocated from the old Metrodome to near the Twins’ ballpark on Sunday.
Rod Carew Field, Northeast Mpls, July 10
The all-Black Willie Mays Jr. RBI team from Birmingham, Alabama defeated the Minneapolis RBI baseball team 15-0. The Alabama club is managed by former Twin Ron Jackson (1979-81). “I think everybody in baseball should give back to the community. I’m here for the kids,” he pointed out.
FanFest, July 11
“We sell a lot of bobbleheads and baseballs,” said baseball vendor Paul Margolis of Chicago of the 360 limited edition Joe Mauer bobbleheads for sale at his booth.
Twins ballpark, downtown Mpls, July 13
A Minneapolis native and two local sports favorites played in Sunday’s All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, won by the National League 14-2. “We had a fun time,” reported Lynx forward Maya Moore, who had two hits as a member of the American League team that lost.
“You just want to come out and take it all in,” added Vikings RB Adrian Peterson on playing with and against MLB legends and Hall of Famers. “It was great to be here playing in my hometown,” concluded Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and Minneapolis native Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. “I’m a baseball guy and I love my Twins.”
Almost $250 got you into Tuesday’s sold-out All-Star Game, which made it the second most expensive game in the last five years according to TiqIQ, a big event ticket resale aggregator.
Retired Lt. Col. Harold Brown, a former fighter pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails (the U.S. military’s first squadron of African American fighter pilots) was also part of the MLB All Star festivities. A traveling exhibit on the famed Tuskegee Airmen was in St. Paul until July 16.
A photo gallery on our MLB All-Star coverage can be seen on the MSR website.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
To see more stories by Charles Hallman stories click HERE