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I went to the All-Star FanFest and it was OK

Jul 15, 2014, 10:31 AM EST

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — For the past two years people have been telling me that I needed to go to FanFest.

“Go to FanFest!” they said.

“Well, I dunno, maybe,” I said.

Just like that.

I didn’t go in New York last year because FanFest was literally ten miles away from the ballpark and I just didn’t have that kind of time and energy. Here in Minneapolis, however, FanFest is in the convention center across the street from the hotel where all the players and press conferences were yesterday. I walked into the press conference/player availability room a little after noon yesterday and, in the space of two minutes, heard three or four different players offer some variation of “I’m just soaking it all in” and/or offering their takes on Derek Jeter. At that point I decided it was safe to leave and go to FanFest.

I’m not exactly what the purpose of FanFest is. I suppose it has a lot of purposes. It’s part merchandise-selling. Part fan-excitement-generator. Part trade show. Part traveling baseball museum. All in one of those enormous airplane-hangar-size convention center rooms. They sell tickets to it for $10 a pop and the tickets look like baseball or concert tickets, so you mentally prepare yourself for some of affirmative entertainment. It doesn’t really come. You just kind of go in and wander around.

I wandered around for an hour or so trying to see if there was a there there. Here are some of the sights I saw:

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Every year there is some themed-statue thing. Statues of Liberty, corn, guitars, whatever is specific to the city, pained up with baseball logos. We have Peanuts characters this year, I presume because Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis. I liked this theme very much and, given how much baseball appeared in Peanuts, it was quite appropriate. Joe Shlabotnik for the Hall of Fame.

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When you walk in to the big room, this is the first thing you see. Bert Blyleven was standing next to the big baseball posing for pictures (You can sort of see him behind the lady in the white t-shirt). Everything in the place was big. Big baseballs, big jerseys hanging from the ceiling a few more big things you’ll see below.

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A D.J. was spinning tunes. He was totally breakin’ it down, yo. For example, the song he was segueing into as I took this picture was “All I wanna do” by Sheryl Crow. Really, I’m not making that up. That was the hot jam he was dropping on us. Your mom was there rolling her eyes at how lame the songs were. In other news, baseball fan demographics are not the best in the world for those interested in reaching the hip, bleeding-edge tastemakers.

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Next to a green screen setup where you could have your picture taken “with” baseball stars. I watched five people go through the line. All five of them picked the Twins’ mascot, TC Bear, leaving Mauer, Cabrera, Puig and Jeter here all lonely and discarded.

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Grant Balfour isn’t even in the damn All-Star Game, but here he is parking his sweet ride in the middle of FanFest. What a guy.

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This was either an indoor Wiffle Ball game involving kids who could barely run, hit or catch or else it was Texas Rangers pregame drills. Hard to tell from this distance.

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The section with the traveling Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit was genuinely cool. Lots of memorabilia, plaques and the like. Thing I learned: Roberto Alomar has his entire name, including his maternal surname, Velázquez, on his plaque. I didn’t realize that the Hall of Fame did that with Latin players — regular MLB records and publications tend not to — but a quick scan shows that Clemente, Cepeda and Aparicio all have their maternal surnames on their plaques too. I think that’s pretty cool.

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Sorry folks, there’s no baseball that counts until Friday. Moose out front shoulda told ya.

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Another photo mockup thing, this time allowing you to have your picture taken in an MLB Network blazer on the MLB Network set. Fact: the person who looks the 356th best at this desk today will be given Chris Russo’s time slot and show. Fact: No matter who it is, whatever show that person does will be more watchable than the Chris Russo show.

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Oh no! Harmon, I warned you not to look straight into the eyes of the Witch of the Woodlands! That the curse would affect even one as mighty as you! But did you listen? Nooo!  In other news, the person who carved this Killebrew statue thinks that Killebrew choked up.

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This was a shirt that was actually for sale. For like $40. Someone created this shirt and thinks a non-crazy person would pay $40 for it and wear it out in the world where other people could see it.

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I didn’t get the price tag on these, but if I was a big famous rock star I’d buy 30 different ones and use them on tour. That way I’d get that extra cheer from the crowd when I did the “HELLO, [INSERT CITY NAME HERE]!!!” thing.

Anyway. That’s pretty much FanFest. I’m not sure it’s worth $10, but I suppose you could spend $10 on a lot of other things. If you’re on the fence about it, well, now you don’t have to go.

  1. ashot - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Buying one of those tacky and most likely overpriced guitars would also help said rock star remember what city he/she is in so as to avoid one of those awkward moments where they change the lyrics of their song to the wrong city.

  2. fletchgriz - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    $10? Try $30 for kids and $35 for adults. What a rip off! Nice reference to Marty Moose, though.

    • scorpiox1960 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Real tomato ketchup Eddie?

    • Bryz - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Yeah, if you bought a strip for the All-Star Game, it said face value was $35 on the FanFest tickets.

  3. El Bravo - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Did Mitch Williams show up and try to get a photo at the MLB network desk?

    • scorpiox1960 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM

      No. He was too busy yelling at the kids playing wiffle ball.

  4. misterpatient - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    $10 is the reduced price. Those who bought the All-Star ticket strip paid $27 per, and I think earlier in the week it was $35 at the door.

    • misterpatient - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Or what fletchgriz said.

  5. illogic87 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    These things are always lame no matter what. Noone cares about this stuff in this day and age. Ten years ago that would have been cool, though…

  6. vanmorrissey - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Looks like that Killebrew…thing, the bat is not part of the statue in fact they don’t have a bat in his hands at all. The bat looks like its kind of placed in the hands and since it’s such a thin barrel it slides down to where it gives the choked up look which is totally wrong. Sorry, not digging it. Killer was thick bodied and never choked up using a big, heavy bat. Weird.

  7. Cris E - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    You should have gone over to the auction area. There were all sorts of things on display for rich people to fling money at like Lou Gehrig’s glove, Hal Newhouser’s MVP plaque and one of Urban Shocker’s paychecks from 1925 ($1105).

    I was there with my daughter near closing time yesterday while the guy was putting away the expensive stuff that couldn’t left out overnight. He turned to her and asked if she’d hang on to Jackie Robinson’s bat while he locked the cabinet up. It was a pretty cool moment for an 11 year old baseball fan.

  8. mjames1229 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Looks almost identical to the Fan Fest that was in Milwaukee in 2002… which is odd because I would have figured “bigger and better” each year to the point where it would be unrecognizable 12 years later.

  9. alexandercartwright - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    Craig Calcaterra’s writing is just barely OK

    • Nick Danger - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      But the pictures are all worth a thousand words each. So he was just trying to make light reading of the non-picture wordy thingies.

  10. Detroit Michael - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis but grew up in St. Paul. Seems to me that St. Paul is the city that really claims him as their own.

    • billybawl - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      His museum is in Santa Rosa, CA, part of his ice rink complex. He raised his family in nearby Sebastopol. The museum is worth a visit for fans.

      • Gamera the Brave - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        Yep, statues of Peanuts characters all over town in Santa Rosa…

  11. beefytrout - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    sure glad we got to shoehorn in a Rangers slam.

    • clemente2 - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      We are, too!!

  12. phillysports1 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Astros fan NOW ?

  13. wallio - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    The fact that Bigfoot is no longer a Ford, or blue, is just sad. Corporate greed at its finest.

    • Cris E - Jul 15, 2014 at 4:23 PM

      You have to admit that it’s pretty impressive to have your corporate greed stand out at an event as garish as Fan Fest.

      • wallio - Jul 15, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        Fair point, but as a child of the ’80s who grew up with the greatest Monster truck ever, to see it like that was shocking, despite the overall chaos of the event.

  14. moogro - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Dem mooses ought not be paradin’ in shorts.

  15. stevietimmy - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    I have a great idea! MLB should extend All-Star festivities an extra day and televise three-hour coverage of “Fan Fest” on a prime time television slot! Awesome!

    • gloccamorra - Jul 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      That would work, if you hired a Japanese game show producer to run it. Contestants who can run the bases without falling in the water or get hit by the swinging styrofoam bat get to advance to the “bunt the 100 MPH fastball” stage.

  16. jfk69 - Jul 16, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case….10 bucks…maybe

  17. brewersfan34 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    I thought Fan Fest was great!! We bought $10 tix the day before. I got to meet Rollie Fingers and got his autograph, I was about 20 feet from Frank Thomas doing a radio interview and we got tons of free swag including a Pepsi coozie with our picture on it, a baseball and a Topps baseball card featuring ourselves.

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