Sunday, July 12, 2009

My All Star Moment

I try not to use this blog to brag on myself too often. I'd rather use it to share quirky things, talk about issues that affect me and others, and communicate things I find interesting. So please allow me to indulge myself and share a truly remarkable experience I had yesterday.

The Major League All Star game is in St. Louis this week, and I was fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to cover the festivities on behalf of my radio stations. I went to Busch Stadium Saturday, before the hoards of reporters got there, to pick up my credentials. The plan was to get them, go home, and watch the Cubs on TV. I should have covered the huge Sheryl Crow concert under the Gateway Arch, but Ms. Crow continues her track record of being perhaps the most unfriendly (to radio) artist on the planet and we were unable to interview her before the show or get access to the concert. But that's another story and I truly believe the Karma Train will take care of it in the end.

OK, back to the reason for this post. I'm walking out of the press room at Busch Stadium and a woman stops me on the street and asks me if I have an hour or so of spare time. I did, and asked her what for assuming it was some kind of research activity and I could politely decline. She says they need people to be part of the rehearsal for the opening ceremonies of the All Star Game! Hmmm...let me think about that for a nanosecond. I'M IN! So she takes me in, next thing I know I'm on the field, and someone slaps a sticker of me saying I'm Johan Santana. Interesting twist of fate since he's a member of the New York Mets and I've pretty much hated the Mets since 1969. But no matter, I'm Johan Santana and I'm, at least for rehearsal, an All Star.

As you can see, the resemblance between me and Johan is uncanny.

So I'm an All Star and they put me in the Cardinals dugout, which will be the National League dugout for the game. Now, I've been in that dugout before, and I must say I've never seen a cleaner, more spruced up baseball dugout. Nice to have the big game in town. All us "players" have to line up in order and get to run out on the field and stand on the first base line as the players will do Tuesday. This is clearly a TV rehearsal, as everything we do is on the Jumbotron and there's a guy with a camera shooting close-ups of us when our player's name is mentioned over the PA system. Sadly I couldn't grab a pic of myself on the big screen. But I'll be contacting everyone who may have a copy of he video to see if I can add it to my collection.

Once we're on the field, we go through all the pre-game ceremonies as if we're the players. I probably shouldn't give all the details of what's happening before the game, but I must say as a baseball fan and an American, the ceremonies are truly moving. Every living President is part of them through the magic of video and there are some very special moments that everyone in the family should not miss. You can go to the bathroom when Sheryl Crow is singing the National Anthem. Nothing against the Anthem, just the "artist".

You can see the field all set for the game and some of the graphics on the scoreboard in this picture. I must hand it to Major League Baseball for planning a truly inspiring pregame celebration. If you ever wondered how they get things like the All Star logo on the field, a crew of painters HAND PAINTED the logo Saturday morning. The ground crew kept on telling us to make sure we didn't step on the logo because the paint may still be wet.

This is all really geeky, and unfortunately I'm geeky about a few things and baseball is certainly one of them. I could gush for hours about how cool it was to be a part of the rehearsal. The hour it was supposed to last became three and a half hours in 90 degree heat, but we got to go through the ceremonies many times, and every time I ran onto the field I couldn't help but get choked up a bit, thinking about how much I love baseball, my heroes The Chicago Cubs, and how my late Grandfather and Father introduced me to the game, as a fan and gave me the chance to play baseball knowing I'd never have the chance to actually be a competitor because of my vision.

So there was no Sheryl Crow, its pouring rain on Sunday and I'm staying home instead of going to the Futures game and Celebrity Softball game featuring MISTER Cub Ernie Banks, and I have the challenge of doing my regular job and trying to attend some of the All Star festivities in the days ahead.

But none of that matters. For three and a half hours, I was an All Star.

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