Legends to make history in Bronx
More than 40 Hall of Famers to be honored at All-Star Game
NEW YORK -- Frank Robinson jokingly tapped his watch on Wednesday afternoon, as FOX Sports television host Chris Rose rattled off a list of his accomplishments. There were the two MVPs -- one in each league -- the two World Series titles and the 586 home runs. And then there was more. The list seemed endless, and Robinson knew it.
So consider this summer, when Major League Baseball will gather an unprecedented group of living legends -- Hall of Famers just like Robinson -- and plunk them all down at the same time, right in the middle of one of baseball's most historic landmarks.
Seems Yankee Stadium is not done creating history. Not quite yet.
The largest group of Hall of Famers at a Major League event in history will gather before this summer's All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium, the league announced on Wednesday. More than 40 legends, including Robinson, Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays and Cal Ripken Jr. are slated to attend, and to be honored during both a pregame ceremony and the All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade presented by Chevy.
"Here, in New York, and it being the last year in Yankee Stadium," Robinson said, "I think they want to put on a good show."
And that's just the hook. Yankee Stadium, host of this year's game, is in its final season. The Yankees will move into a new, state-of-the-art stadium across the street next April, giving them incentive to pack as much history into this final summer as they can.
"It's just a pleasure always, and I always look forward to coming to Yankee Stadium," Robinson said. "All the history that they have, and all the great players that played there, and the mystique of the Yankee teams and the pinstripes and all of that. You're in awe the first time you step onto those grounds. It's like they're holy."
What's unique about the event is that, although the game's living Hall of Famers typically gather for each summer's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, they rarely do so outside of the Cooperstown, N.Y., city limits. This July, they'll assemble on a different sort of stage.
"These are people that are considered the best," Robinson said. "They wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame if they weren't."
And certainly, the stadium, way up in the Bronx, won't be the only host of history. The Hall of Famers will also take part in the Red Carpet Parade, slated to stretch 18 blocks up Sixth Avenue in Manhattan on Tuesday, July 15, the afternoon before the game.
That will give even those fans without tickets to the All-Star Game a chance to see this group of Hall of Famers together, and will give the legends another chance to mingle.
"I really think this is going to be one of the most special events we have ever done," Major League Baseball vice president of business Tim Brosnan said of the weekend's events. "We've got the greatest city in the world. We've got the greatest game in the world. We've got the greatest players in the world. And here in New York City, we happen to have the greatest venue in the world, that allows us this backdrop to deliver a host of spectacular events in and around the 79th All-Star Game."
Major League Baseball announced two other All-Star Game initiatives on Wednesday, including a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council to make the event more environmentally friendly.
Major League Baseball, throughout this summer, will hand out reusable All-Star totes to fans in seven Major League cities. The league will sponsor an Eco-Play playground made from 85 percent recycled materials at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx, and it will partner with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide clean air hybrid buses to the All-Star Fan Fest at Manhattan's Javits Center all weekend long.
The league also will pay tribute to New York City by featuring several city landmarks in its All-Star celebration. Major League Baseball will place 42 baseball-themed Statue of Liberty replicas at various locations around the city, and will illuminate the Empire State Building in red, white and blue lights throughout the weekend and during the game.
All the pomp is designed to make this All-Star game, the fourth in the Bronx and the eighth in New York City history, one of the most memorable ever. It will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game, scheduled for Sunday, July 13.
And the game itself will mark only a fraction of the weekend's festivities.
"It's just great to be a part of it," Robinson said, curling a smile. "And hopefully, it won't rain."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.