An All-Star Cast Makes an All-Star Announcement 31 Aug 12

An All-Star Cast Makes an All-Star Announcement!
Photos and story by Gordy Jones

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig gives Minnesota some good news.

The big “secret” was actually no secret when Commissioner Allen (Bud) Selig rolled into town August 29 to make the official announcement that Target Field had been awarded the All-Star Game for 2014. The Twins, the media, and the fans all anticipated that an All-Star Game would be in the mix for Minneapolis ever since August 30, 2007, when a groundbreaking ceremony was being held at the exact same spot. Now, one day shy of five years, nearly everyone had returned, and Bud was awarding the Twins the 2014 game.

On that day in 2007, I remember a star-studded group showing up in suits to a bare, clay plot of land surrounded by old warehouses and a garbage dump to make the official dig. Of the many Twins players who were there, the only four remaining on the team are Glen Perkins, Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Mauer and Morneau are both four-time All-Stars. Former Twins All-Stars, Rod Carew (an impressive 18-time All-Star) and Tony Oliva were there for the groundbreaking and for the announcement. I talked to Bud, and we laughed about how difficult it is to believe that the rough patch of land we stood on was transformed into a baseball palace.

Former Twins star Kent Hrbek was there for the groundbreaking, but not the All-Star announcement. He was never a fan of the voting process, feeling that some of the small-market players were wrongly denied an opportunity to play. He is, however, a fan of good times and beer. As he took the podium on that warm August night before the “dig,” he cracked open a beer and said: “I want to be the first person to have a beer at Target Field.” He proceeded to chug. Today, there is a pub at the park named after him.

There was a brief ceremony on the field before the August 29 game telling the fans about the 2014 All-Star Game. From left to right, current and former Twins All-Stars: Paul Molitor, Joe Mauer, Bert Blyleven, Tony Olivia, Justin Morneau and Rod Carew.

One person who couldn’t be back for last Wednesday’s announcement is the late owner, Carl Pohlad. He would have relished the honor of this announcement, especially while being amongst his family and friends. He was there in spirit, and of course his friends and family were there in person. Before Carl passed, many people associated with baseball and the Twins had become like his second family. Bud Selig spoke fondly of his friend, saying how much he would have enjoyed this, and how Carl helped inspire him to become commissioner, and was somewhat of a mentor to him.

Many teams wanted to host the 2014 All-Star Game, especially the Chicago Cubs, who will celebrate their centennial that year. But Bud said he knew it would be here for about a year; he just didn’t tell anyone until recently. Selig talked about how times

Rod Carew was being teased here by Bert Blyleven and Ron Coomer. There was a slip-up at the press conference and someone forgot to introduce Rod.

have changed. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, teams had to sometimes be talked into hosting the event. It was considered more of an inconvenience and a disruption in the middle of a season. Now that the game is peaking in popularity again, it is an honor to host the event.

The event itself has changed as well. It has gone from a one-day event with a VIP party on the previous night, to a six-day event with a parade, parties, celebrities, home run derby, a Fan Fair (which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center), and of course the game itself.

You could tell this was a big deal when the senior A-team reporters, Sid and Shooter, showed up on a hot afternoon to bake in the sun and listen.

There were more suits being worn than I have seen in a long time, and on a hot day at that. Even people who don’t typically wear suits were dolled up. I heard one young man who is a Twins employee saying that his dad took him out the previous night and helped him pick out an outfit to wear.

VIP attendees at the All-Stars press conference, from left to right: Roy Smalley, Paul Molitor, Bud Selig, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Ron Coomer and Tim Laudner.

St Paul native, Hall of Famer, and former All-Star Paul Molitor was there in a nice suit, and he looked quite happy. I asked what this meant to him and he replied: “My perspective is more like that of a fan these days. Growing up, watching the All-Star Game was a huge part of being a fan of baseball, just to watch it and see the best players get together and play. To be awarded it is certainly an honor, and I know we will do a great job hosting it. In addition to the game, we’re going to raise a lot of money for the community. It’s just a win-win deal. I played in seven All-Star Games and it was always a privilege.”

18-time All-Star Rod Carew addresses crowd at the news conference.

One of Paul’s All-Star years was 1985, and that was the last time the Twins hosted the game. In fact, there were 14 Hall of Famers in that game. The other All-Star Game the Twins hosted was in 1965, in which Harmon Killebrew and Willie Mays homered. That was also the year of the Twins’ first World Series.

It is predicted that the Twin Cities will take in more than $80 million, and local charities will gain, at the minimum, $5 million from various All Star events, so it will certainly be a winning season.

Kent Hrbek drinking his first beer at the Target Field groundbreaking ceremony in 2007.

It would be nice if the Twins could repeat 1965 and host the World Series as well as the All Star Game!