FanFest delivers baseball bonanza Showcase runs through Tuesday


"The Making of the Shoe."

"The Making of an All-Star Ring."

"The Making of the Game."

Unfortunately for starry-eyed Little Leaguers and their parents, there is no "The Making of the All-Star Player" at this year's Upper Deck All-Star FanFest, which opens today for Orioles season-ticket holders and runs tomorrow through Tuesday -- the day of the 64th All-Star Game -- for everyone else.

But there are plenty of other exhibits showcased at the Convention Center and Festival Hall that are bound to whet the appetite of any baseball aficionado.

Much of the first floor of the Convention Center is built to resemble a stadium. There is a baseball diamond with opposing dugouts, restrooms and concession stands selling food.

The second floor houses minor-league apparel, trivia games and an arcade. On the third level, there are baseball seminars, various baseball merchandisers and an outdoor eating area.

Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver was on hand yesterday, surveying the scene as preparation for the festivities continued.

"I think it's fantastic," Weaver said. "I was at the one in Toronto two years ago, and I was amazed at all that was going on there. If you're into baseball, you can just have a ball here. . . . It certainly makes for a gala week."

More than 300,000 square feet of the center is being used to house the attractions, said Jeffrey A. Davis,spokesman for Trahan, Burden & Charles Inc., an advertising agency helping FanFest's two presenters -- the Orioles and Major League Baseball Properties -- to organize and promote the event.

With Festival Hall housing 50,000 square feet of Orioles memorabilia, Davis said he expects this year's attendance to exceed last year's of 85,000 in San Diego. "We're shooting to break 100,000. That's our goal," Davis said.

Surrounding the diamond on the first floor are various showcases, including game booths, sports card tables and an All-Star FanFest shop. And in the center of the diamond is FanFest's pearl -- the Cooperstown National Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit.

This is the third time that Cooperstown and All-Star FanFest organizers have collaborated to bring an exhibit from the Hall of Fame's home in New York, said Ted Spencer, the exhibit's curator.

With about 125 artifacts -- including the jerseys of some of baseball's greats and information panels of their greatest feats -- on display, Spencer said the challenge is to familiarize baseball fans with the players and plays that made baseball history.

"It's a different audience for every city," Spencer said. "We try to tailor [the exhibit] to the city we visit if we can . . . but we also try to bring other things on other players from other cities that they haven't seen. But it doesn't always work out that way.

"[As an] educational institution," he added, "part of our mission is to bring this stuff to the people. There's an awful lot of people who just don't get a chance to look at it."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad