Major League Baseball opened the doors to its annual FanFest to Kansas City media on Thursday. FanFest is an annual event in the host city and with the 2012 MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City, Bartle Hall was chosen as the site of the event. The general public can attend starting Friday, July 6 and it runs through July 10.
What’s in store this year are many attractions and activities for just about anyone. There’s a special spot for kids to do arts and crafts or some simple hitting off of a batting tee. There are pitching machines for big kids and adults and even fielding practice. Also featured are speed pitch booths to tell you how fast you can throw and an attraction sponsored by Taco Bell where you can “steal a base, steal a taco”. Participants can select a baserunner (I chose Alex Gordon) and re-enact a stolen base attempt. You react when the pitcher starts to deliver the ball, run down a baseline and slide into a base (with a mat in front) and if you’re safe, you win a taco.
I gave it a try:
There are numerous photo booths where you can pose as if you’re making a game winning catch, showing up on a baseball card, or even by the world’s largest baseball.
If you’re not really after a lot of the carnival-type games, there are various vendors selling memorabilia and an All-Star merchandise store to browse through, plus various booths set up with information about baseball.
What really jumps out are the exhibits.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame has various artifacts, including a World Series trophy and the infamous Pine Tar Bat swung by George Brett in 1983. Other jerseys and items are on display after making the voyage from Cooperstown. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has a large exhibit as well, featuring replica jerseys of Negro League players inducted into the Hall of Fame and other such things. There’s an authentic game-worn uniform of Jackie Robinson‘s famous #42 that you can see, but it wasn’t in the case on the tour.
Another interesting exhibit is shared every year at All-Star FanFest. To tribute the host city, MLB highlights their team’s history. There’s a timeline, photos, and even a facsimile team photo with life-size cutouts where you can stand in and look like part of the team.
MLB has set up an area called the Clubhouse, designed for Q&A sessions with All-Stars of this year and the past, as well as other players. Alex Gordon is planned to participate in one such session, but won’t be the only one. 2012 All-Star jerseys hang as if ready to be worn inside the Clubhouse. Right outside of that is a dugout where there will be kids games (like at the Little K) and a mascot Home Run Derby.
MLB.com and the MLB Network have booths set up and will be reporting and broadcasting from FanFest throughout the weekend.
I imagine you’ll have to wait a bit for the autograph lines, but if you’re the type to collect them, it should be worth it. Current and former All-Stars will sign autographs and Bo Jackson might end up being the biggest draw, as he’s announced he’ll be there on Saturday.
Best of all, once you’ve purchased a ticket (or received it with your All-Star Game strip), all of the exhibits and attractions are included in the price of the ticket. Concessions and merchandise are available for purchase.
More information about FanFest is located on the MLB.com All-Star Game site.