MLB, Yanks unveil '08 All-Star plans
Mayor among group to launch voting, release schedule
NEW YORK -- Ballot boxes had already found homes throughout Yankee Stadium on Tuesday when team co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner walked into the luxurious Stadium Club along the third-base line. He knew that in just over two months, his father's stadium would host some of the greatest players in the game today. And he was pleased.
"I'm a bit biased, without a doubt, but I just believe this is the most fitting site for this year's game," Steinbrenner said. "And I can assure you that everybody in the Yankees organization is going to work very hard to make this very memorable."
Steinbrenner, along with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Major League Baseball COO Bob DuPuy and several Yankees past and present, were on hand at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday to officially open the balloting for this July's 79th All-Star Game, and to reveal the schedule of events for the entire All-Star Week in New York.
"Yankee Stadium has been a site of so many incredible moments," Bloomberg said. "It's clearly going to be very sad to say goodbye to this place come next October, especially after the Yankees will have just played in a World Series here. But I do think that the All-Star Game is going to be one of those great ways to celebrate all of these special memories, and also the perfect opportunity to start getting excited about the club's new home."
All-Star Week will begin on Friday, July 11, when the DHL All-Star FanFest opens to the public at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan. Held every year in the city of the All-Star Game, this year's FanFest will include baseball activities for children, along with history exhibits and appearances by current and former Major Leaguers. The FanFest will run for five straight days at the Javits Center.
Two days after the FanFest opening, Yankee Stadium will get involved, hosting the XM All-Star Futures Game at 12:30 p.m., followed by the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game at 4 p.m. Last year's Futures Game featured such Minor Leaguers as Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox, and this year's event will run a full nine innings -- up from the usual seven. That's to help many of the Futures Game participants prepare for their upcoming roles in the Beijing Olympics.
The next day, on Monday, Major League players will arrive, debuting to ticket-holders at the Gatorade Workout Day. Allowing fans to glimpse their favorite players as they take batting practice at Yankee Stadium, this year's event will help generate $7 million worth of donations for local and national charities.
Later that night, Yankee Stadium will host the State Farm Home Run Derby, annually one of the most popular events on the baseball calendar. And then, on Tuesday, it will finally be time for the game itself, the 79th All-Star Game in Major League history.
This year's game will be the fourth in Yankee Stadium history -- a list that includes the first-ever All-Star Game in 1939 -- and the eighth in New York City. Considering that the Yankees are building a state-of-the-art stadium across the street to open in April of 2009, this All-Star Game will hold significance during the final season at Yankee Stadium.
"This stadium here has more tradition and more history than any other stadium," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "In my opinion, this is the best stadium in the world."
Jeter was on hand at Tuesday's press conference, along with Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. The group exchanged warm words with Bloomberg, who tried on an All-Star Game jersey -- joking that he would bury it underneath Fenway Park -- then stated his commitment to making this year's game a memorable one. Considering the amount of economic growth expected from the game -- a projected $184.4 million in New York City -- Bloomberg has plenty to gain, too.
That income starts with baseball fans, who now have an opportunity to register for All-Star Game and Home Run Derby tickets on MLB.com. Registration opened at noon on Tuesday, and will run until 10 p.m. on June 15. Then, on June 23, tickets for the Futures Game and the Legends and Celebrities Softball Game will go on sale to the public.
"This is a really exciting year," Levine said. "It's great to be a part of it, and the goal is to bring together all New Yorkers, all Yankee fans and everybody all across the world."
Until that time, New Yorkers can anticipate the All-Star Game -- and prepare.
"We do lots of shows all year long," Bloomberg said. "The New York City Marathon, New Year's Eve in Times Square -- nobody puts on events like the Big Apple. I think it's fair to say we have the experience, we've got the resources, we've got the spirit.
"And this July, Bob," he continued, gesturing to DuPuy, "you'll be happy to know, I will guarantee you it will be the best All-Star weekend in baseball history."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.