I went to the T-Mobile All-Star FANFEST yesterday at the Javits Center, thanks to winning a contest from Time Warner Cable, and it has something for everybody. Major League Baseball did a great job making sure that every type of baseball fan would enjoy this event.
Jesse Orosco, who made his debut in 1979 and retired in 2003, and holds the major league record for career appearances, made his presence known at two different areas of FanFest. He pitched for a total of 10 teams, including the Yankees in 2003, and his clutch relief pitching helped the Mets win the World Series in 1986. Orosco was interviewed during a segment of the Michael Kay Show live from the Javits Center and was signing autographs for a long time before that.
Other former Major League Baseball players with various amounts of fame that were in attendance and signing autographs while I was there were Barry Lyons (the back-up catcher to Gary Carter when they won the World Series in 1986), Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, George Foster, Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, among a few others. They signed autographs in designated areas and as a result of either being World Series champions or Hall of Famers they will always have a line waiting for them at events like this.
Live radio was also a prominent part of FanFest. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who rose to fame with his Mike and the Mad Dog show on WFAN with Mike Francesa, had his show on Sirius XM Radio stationed next to MLB’s booth. During commercials he interacted with fans by signing autographs and taking pictures. Something that stood out was that during the show he asked his producer how to pronounce the name of the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Edward Mujica, but the producer was caught of guard and didn’t know the answer.
As stated earlier, Michael Kay and Don La Greca also held their radio show from Fan Fest. ESPN NY 98.7 had been holding many of their radio shows live from the Javits Center since the first day of FanFest, on July 12. Seeing the show live was interesting since I was able to see what they did during commercials.
Another theme that I enjoyed about FanFest was the trivia aspect. There was a computerized game where there was one All-Star Game related question at a “first base” station, a “second base” station and a “third base” station. Then, depending on how many correct answers you got correct, you would claim a prize at home plate. I ended up winning a landyard, a wristband and something else. Also, there was more trivia set up on the stage of MLB Network where I got to spin a wheel to find out what kind of prize I would win.
There were also interactive areas where people could test out new MLB video games, try out their sliding ability, hit in a batting cage and see how fast they could throw a baseball. These events were popular with all age groups. I also got to see a display of what All-Star jerseys and lockers from players like Mariano Rivera, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrara will look like in the All-Star Game.
In another area, they had baseball’s previously signed by dozens of players like future Hall-of Famer Ichiro Suzuki, to marginal players like Tad Iguchi and Matt Laporta, to the current Yankee power hitter and great guy, Curtis Granderson. Comparing what a baseball signed by various players sold for was interesting. A baseball signed by defensive wizard, Omar Vizquel, was $125, but one signed by Hideki “The Fat Toad” Irabu was $295. Current Nationals player Denard Span’s baseball went for $79.
A final noteworthy area of FanFest for me was the Hall of Fame & Museum exhibit. The most notable jersey in this section was Babe Ruth’s jersey from 1930. George Sisler, Tris Speaker and other players from that era were also displayed, as well as a tribute to the origins of how baseball became so popular in Latin America.
It is a great thing that MLB is putting on so many events in the host city besides just the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby. MLB also staged the All-Star 5K run for Sandy Relief in Prospect Park, as well as a concert in Central Park featuring Mariah Carey and food trucks featuring food from various MLB cities whose proceeds will go to the Robin Hood Relief Fund and support people impacted by Hurricane Sandy.