Suffering from expo-sure
Day at a Glance: A long walk on All-Star Workout Day
Posted: Monday July 12, 1999 04:57 PM
By Bryan Boyle, CNN/SI
BOSTON -- Monday is All-Star Workout Day, which calls for a brisk morning walk to the All-Star FanFest at the Hynes Convention Center.
The line for entry stretches nearly all the way down a block of Boylston Street -- and for good reason, for FanFest is the best Expo since the Pedro Martinez trade.
A walk under 100-foot hanging murals of Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra and through the threshold leads people of all ages into baseball bliss. FanFest is sensory overload to elicit smiles from the kids, and from the kid in all of us. An umpire on stilts calls a sliding tike "Safe!" The speakers blare memorable play-by-play calls. The vendors yell for attention. And the business for Boston's Land & Water Duck Tours suffers this week as a result.
The first exhibit is the Major League Baseball Clubhouse Store, perfect one-top shopping for the fifth percentile yet to don any All-Star gear. The most popular items are the caricature T-shirts (sold out) and any T-shirt with a roster on it ($20), said national merchandise manager Nancy Willis.
Also hot are the uniforms. The vest goes for $120 with a name ("Everything is Nomar, said Willis), $90 without. And the outfit is not complete without the official undershirt ($25). A quick browse reveals countless items ranging from the $3 pens, pennants and batting helmets to the $300 wool-body letterman jacket with leather sleeves.
Outside the clubhouse door is the World of Baseball: From Australia to Zimbabwe. The display is set on a wall like a science-fair project with a budget. Four TVs highlight international baseball broadcasts. There are life-size cutouts of Sammy Sosa (Dominican Republic), Martinez (Dominican Republic), Vinny Castilla (Mexico), Bernie Williams (Puerto Rico) and Dave Nillson (Australia, where "more Australians play Tee-Ball than any other sport," reads the display). And there are assorted souvenirs ranging from Holland's national team jersey to Zimbabwe's national team cap.
A turn to the left invites a stroll through a walkway and rotunda that display historic black-and-white photographs from The Brearley Collection that celebrate the game's legends.
Another left turn brings about the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. Souvenirs are encased. A Rawlings representative carves a bat. And wandering the territory is Casey at the Bat, wearing a Curly-Q mustache, wayfarer spectacles, high-tops and, of course, the Mudville Nine uniform.
Across the floor is the Professional Baseball: The Minor Leagues exhibit, which showcases caps from 160 minor league clubs from the Akron Aeros (Class AA, Eastern) to the Yakima Bears (Short Season A, Northwest). A large map helps you locate Akron and Yakima and places in-between to watch minor league baseball.
Adjacent is The Negro Leagues exhibit. Lockers of former standouts and encased. And a monitor tells the tale of Jackie Robinson: "The day he signed, I knew I had a chance to play major league baseball," said Willie Mays.
Around the corner is a corridor termed the All-Star Bazaar, which is more like the All-Star Bizarre. A vendor offers floppy Red Sox caps to folks interested in signing up for a credit card -- which, incidentally, comes in mighty handy at FanFest. Northeastern University sets up like it's a college fair. And people of all ages wait eagerly in line for a photo opportunity next to life-size cut-outs of Jar Jar and Darth Maul and Yoda -- in All-Star digs, of course.
The Collector's Showcase awaits at hall's end, where goods from 3"x 5" baseball cards to 6' x 8' original paintings featuring baseball's heroes can be bought. Pins, dolls, pennants, too.
Tucked around the corner is the Film Theater, which makes for a retreat for parents, judging from a quick look around. The movie-size screen features -- what else? -- baseball's greatest moments from past.
And just next door is a convention hall that entertains the MLB Legends. Over 200 people wait for a chance to meet their favorite stars. "Now Signing," read the banner, "George Brett -- Chris Chambliss -- Rico Petrocelli."
Then there's no where else to go but up, for that's just the first of two floors.
Whew! What a workout.
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