An all-star lineup of events

THE BALTIMORE SUN

If you're not among the 48,000 or so lucky fans who scored tickets for Tuesday night's All-Star Game, there's no need to stare dejectedly through the iron gates leading into Oriole Park at Camden Yards. There are so many All-Star Week activities taking place nearby you can still share in the action.

In fact, one game-related event is expected to easily outdraw the game itself. The Upper Deck All-Star FanFest, running today through Tuesday in the Convention Center and Festival Hall, will have baseball fanatics wandering as if through a field of dreams. Based on the 85,000 fans who attended last year's FanFest in San Diego, officials expect 100,000 this year.

"The average stay is 4 1/2 hours and we've had kids who came back every day," says Gail Hunter, the FanFest project supervisor. "We use the Disney [theme park] model -- people pay to get in and then can do everything inside for free. We also have a lot of interactive activities so people can really be a part of it."

To give you a sense of the scale of this fanatical event, there's a "baseball" resting in the Convention Center lobby that's 12 feet in diameter. Not to mention the giant inflated ball soaring above Festival Hall.

Sure to be among the highlights is the largest memorabilia exhibit ever on loan from Cooperstown, N.Y. The more than 300 items include a 1903 World Series program, a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, Jim Palmer's 1969 Baltimore Orioles cap, Hank Aaron's 500th home run bat, seats from Ebbets Field, and a glove worn by Lou Gehrig. Sorry, these ain't for sale.

But everything is for sale in the sprawling FanFest retail store where you can buy tons of merchandise representing all 28 major league teams. It's such a mind-boggling and wallet-emptying array of logo-embossed jackets, caps and other stuff that All-Star Week seems like All-Store Week here.

FanFesters are also sure to enjoy an exhibit celebrating the history of the Baltimore Orioles; a "Knothole Gang Fence" that lets you peek at videotaped highlights from All-Star Game history; a baseball card booth in which your picture goes on the card and your stats go on its back (no doubt there'll be some inflated stats); a Collectors Showcase, where local and national dealers will be buying, selling and trading baseball cards; a Diamond Theater, where you can watch baseball players and managers discuss their skills; video batting cages; a demonstration area where balls and bats are made before your very eyes; and a replica of a pro dugout full of real equipment.

Also -- whew, this FanFest is moving into extra innings! -- there is a "Call of Fame," in which correctly answering a baseball trivia question wins a free long distance call to anywhere in the world. Then there's the Rookie League Locker Room, complete with kid-sized batting cages and bullpens for the young sporting talent in the family.

Of all that FanFest has to offer, perhaps the biggest lines will form for some of the 125 baseball players slated to make #F autograph-signing appearances. The big roster includes Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Paul Blair, Rollie Fingers, Milt Pappas, Al Bumbry, Mike Cuellar, Boog Powell, Orlando Cepeda, Enos Slaughter, Dick Hall, Harmon Killebrew, Tippy Martinez, Gaylord Perry, Joe Altobelli, Bob Feller, Bobby Grich and Steve Garvey.

"If you're a sports fan, it's fantastic," says former Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who attended the first FanFest in Toronto two years ago.

Having managed the American League team in four All-Star games, Mr. Weaver describes it as "a manager's nightmare. Although it's a pleasure to be involved and watch the many All Stars perform, it is one night of tough work for the manager. Trying to get everybody in there to play is tough, and if somebody doesn't get in there, the guy's feelings will be hurt. There are so many changes in that ball game it's hard to keep up with the line-up card."

FanFest runs today through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Tickets are sold on a timed-entry basis (for admission every hour, on the hour). Once inside, you may stay as long as you wish. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors 62 and older, children 12 and younger, and military. Tickets are available through the Orioles main ticket office at (410) 685-9800; TicketMaster Phone Charge at (410) 481-SEAT; TicketMaster Outlets; and Orioles Baseball Stores in Seabrook, York, Pa., and Washington.

Among other All-Star Week events, look for "A Salute to the Stars of Early Black Baseball." A 2:30 p.m. ceremony just before the Orioles-White Sox game tomorrow honors 25 players from the all-black teams that formed leagues of their own because major league baseball excluded black players for most of its history.

The honorees Saturday include pitcher Leon Day. He began his career in Baltimore with the Black Sox, made his reputation with the Newark Eagles, and then played a single season with the Elite Giants in Baltimore in 1949 as his career headed into its final years and separate black leagues declined as the major leagues became integrated.

Now 76 and again living in his adopted hometown of Baltimore, Mr. Day missed being elected to the national Baseball Hall of Fame by a single vote this year. But honors did come his way last year, as he tossed out the first pitch at an Orioles game during a Leon Day Night at the stadium, and the governor and mayor proclaimed Leon Day days. Of that game-opening toss, )) Mr. Day says, "I threw a good pitch -- a curve ball -- and it was the first time I'd been on the mound since I don't know when. My arm ain't what it used to be." He also enjoyed the official recognition, happily recalling what it was like to visit "the governor's palace."

Of this weekend's honors, he says, "For a long time [black baseball teams] didn't have any recognition. A lot of kids today have never heard of them. So it's good to let them know. I'm looking forward to [Saturday] because I'll get to meet the guys I haven't seen in such a long time."

Besides all the hoopla inside the Convention Center and over at Camden Yards in the days ahead, there'll be a lot of free merriment at a StreetFest along Camden Street next to Festival Hall. Each day's crafts and entertainment have a different theme for the street festival running today through Tuesday, with daily hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Today is Community Day, with everything from high school jazz bands to Sweet Adelines. Saturday is Kids' Day, ranging from a jump rope team to a Naval Academy country band. Sunday is International Day, Monday is Workout Day, and Tuesday is All-Star City Day, in which the entertainment includes such local acts as Ruby Glover, Regency, and the top three winners in this year's Billie Holiday vocal competition. Surely the most unusual act Tuesday will be an import: the super-tall cross-dressing supermodel and disco sensation from New York, RuPaul, doing a solo act from 1:45 p.m. to 2:05 p.m.

For information about StreetFest, call the Baltimore Office of Promotion at (410) 837-4636.

Also in the offing is a free Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Rash Field. (Rain date is Sunday). Take a bag of non-perishable food to benefit the Maryland Food Bank. The program ranges from a play-by-play spoof of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to appearances by Sesame Street creatures, from the a cappella group Regency to hundreds of Little League players singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

And among local museums tapping into the All-Star spirit, the Babe Ruth Museum has an exhibit, "The Babe, the Birds, and Baltimore," as well as a display about Orioles All-Stars and the 1958 All-Star Game played at Memorial Stadium; the Baltimore Museum of Industry has an exhibit featuring the history of sports-related manufacturing, and the construction of the new baseball stadium; the Maryland Science Center has "All Sorts of Sports," an exhibit about the physics and physiology of sports; and the World Trade Center has "Hollywood All-Stars," a photo and poster exhibit of Hollywood-themed movies.

For more information, call (410) 685-9800.

All-star activities lead up to the big day

*****

Today

9 a.m.-10 p.m.: Upper Deck All-Star FanFest*

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Baltimore's All-Star StreetFest Community Day

5:30 p.m. -7 p.m.: Beefeaters All-Star Concert, Harborplace Amphitheatre

7:35 p.m.: White Sox vs. Orioles*

10 p.m. to 1 a.m.: "Stan the Fan," Phillips Cafe

*****

Tomorrow

9 a.m.-10 p.m.: Upper Deck All-Star FanFest*

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Baltimore's All-Star StreetFest Kids' Day

Noon: Arrival in Baltimore, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Day

2:30 p.m.: Upper Deck Stars of Early Black Baseball Tribute

3 p.m.: White Sox vs. Orioles*

7 p.m.: Symphony Under the Stars, Inner Harbor, Rash Field

*****

Sunday

9 a.m: Oriole Advocate All-Star 5K Race. Inner Harbor, Rash Field*

9 a.m.-10 p.m.: Upper Deck All-Star FanFest*

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: All-Star StreetFest International Day

11 a.m.-3 p.m.: All-Star Family Festival -- Food, games and live entertainment at University Center*

1:35 p.m.: White Sox vs. Orioles*

4 p.m.-6 p.m.: All-Star Always Coca-Cola Concert Series, Harborplace amphitheatre, Inner Harbor

*****

Monday

9 a.m.-10 p.m.: Upper Deck All-Star FanFest*

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Baltimore's All-Star StreetFest Workout Day

Noon-4:30 p.m.: Gatorade All-Star Workout (Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Game, AL and NL Workouts, Gatorade Home Run Hitting Derby)*

4 p.m.: StreetFest Step Competition

7 p.m.-10 p.m.: Beefeaters All-Star Grand Slam Concert Series, Harborplace amphitheatre, Inner Harbor

*****

Tuesday

9 a.m.-10 p.m.: Upper Deck All-Star FanFest*

9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.: American Institute of Architects Symposium on Ballpark Architecture (featuring Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, architectural critic John Pastier, Orioles Vice President of Stadium Planning and Development Janet Marie Smith, and others)*

10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m.: Kids' Stuff, Kaufman Pavilion, Rash Field, Inner Harbor

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Baltimore's All-Star StreetFest All-Star City Day

Noon: Baltimore City Middle School Lacrosse Club All-Star Game, Inner Harbor, Rash Field

5 p.m.-8 p.m.: All-Star Always Coca-Cola Concert Series, Harborplace amphitheatre, Inner Harbor

8 p.m.: All-Star Game, Oriole Park at Camden Yards*

C7 * Admission charge. All other events free admission

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