MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A week that the City of Minneapolis spent years preparing for has come and gone. Baseball fans from the Twin Cities and all throughout the country hit downtown Minneapolis for All-Star Week.
One of the most popular attractions for the festivities was the FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The main events included the All-Star Futures Game, Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, Home Run Derby and of course the All-Star Game. Overall, it was an extremely successful week for the Twin Cities as Major League Baseball ran the whole event incredibly well.
There were a lot of great moments throughout the week, and here are our five favorites.
Justin Morneau Makes His Return
Minnesota Twins fans finally got their chance to thank Justin Morneau for his contributions here after he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. An effort in fan voting to get him into the All-Star Game as a reserve came up just short, but he was selected for the Home Run Derby. Morneau came up to the plate for the Derby to a standing ovation and tipped his cap to the fans. He then saluted them with two home runs, launching one into the plaza in right field. Morneau said coming in that he never got the chance to thank the fans himself after leaving the team. It was a great moment at Target Field.
Derek Jeter’s Last All-Star Game
Derek Jeter is a model for what a professional athlete should act like on and off the field. Anyone who witnessed his last All-Star Game, whether you were there or saw it on TV, got an experience they will likely never forget. In his first at-bat, Jeter came up to the plate to the audio of legendary Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, he tipped his helmet to the fans and his teammates, and National League starting pitcher Adam Wainwright put down his glove, stepped off the mound and saluted Jeter. He was taken out before the top of the fourth, saluted again and thanked fans for everything. He also hugged every single one of his AL teammates. It was another fantastic moment for baseball fans.
Perkins, Suzuki Close Out All-Star Game
One of the biggest pressures any All-Star Game manager has is finding a way to get the players representing the host city in the game for the fans. In the case of the Twins, it was more difficult this year than it might seem. Catcher Kurt Suzuki could go in at any time, but closer Glen Perkins usually pitches in late-game situations with a lead. With the AL leading 5-3 going to the ninth, manager John Farrell sent Perkins in to close out the game with Suzuki. Fans stood for the entire inning, and Perkins pitched a 1-2-3 frame to close it out. After the game, Perkins said it was as good as he could’ve pictured it and it was overwhelming to close out the win in his home stadium. He’s the third pitcher ever to earn an All-Star Game save in his home ballpark.
Neshek Returns Home, Appears In All-Star Game
Pat Neshek’s return to Minnesota was as emotional as any story told over the All-Star Week. The Twin Cities native was introduced in pregame introductions as a Park Center High School graduate, and fought tears on several occasions when asked about his journey back to Minnesota. Neshek pitched for the Twins before leaving the team, bouncing around other clubs and eventually being out of baseball. He and his wife brought a baby into the world, which died a day later. They now have another child, and the St. Louis Cardinals gave him a chance as a reliever. It led to his first All-Star Game appearance in his home state. He allowed two runs on three hits, but none of that seemed to matter in one of the great moments of the week.
All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade
All-Star Week for the host city gives baseball fans a chance to get a closer look at their favorite players. There’s no greater evidence of that than the Red Carpet Parade. This year, players and coaches along with their families paraded down Nicollet Mall the day of the All-Star Game to Target Field. Thousands of fans lined the streets, took “selfies” with mascots and did or said whatever they could to get the attention of their favorite players. You can tell the players are appreciative of getting to the All-Star experience. After all, it’s the fans who lined the streets who voted them in. The players had their fun when they got on the field for pregame batting practice. Many took pictures with each other and were just all smiles having fun playing the game they love.
It was a great week overall for Minneapolis, and now the Twin Cities has more than three years to make adjustments for when it hosts the 2018 Super Bowl.