MINNEAPOLIS -- Six-time All-Star Joe Mauer joined several Twins legends, front-office executives and elected city officials to officially announce this year's MLB All-Star activities and to launch the ballots for the American and National Leagues on Friday at Target Field.
Mauer, who is serving as the official ambassador for the MLB All-Star Game to be held on July 15 at Target Field, donned his Twins uniform during a special news conference held in the Metropolitan Club.
He was joined by Twins owner Jim Pohlad and president Dave St. Peter, as well as former Twins and All-Star FanFest ambassadors Paul Molitor, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Bert Blyleven. MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan was also present along with St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and Minneapolis city council president Barb Johnson.
"It's exciting," said Mauer, a St. Paul native. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an ambassador. I couldn't pass this opportunity up, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've attended All-Star Games in the past and realize how cool it is to have it in your hometown. It's really special and hard to describe. But I know Minnesota and Twins territory will put on a great show."
Mauer and the other dignitaries at the event emphasized that hosting the All-Star Game is about more than just the Midsummer Classic, as there are several events leading up to it as part of All-Star Week.
There's Taco Bell All-Star Sunday featuring the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game on July 13, Gatorade All-Star Workout Day featuring the Home Run Derby on July 14 before the 85th MLB All-Star Game on July 15. The T-Mobile All-Star FanFest will also be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center from July 11-15.
"It's really a big deal," said Molitor, who also hails from St. Paul and was a seven-time All-Star during his Hall of Fame career. "It used to just be the game. But now we have the Home Run Derby and FanFest and the Futures Game and Softball Game. It's just an amazing opportunity to put our game, our organization and our stadium up on that baseball stage."
One of the major announcements at the news conference was MLB and the Twins are set to contribute a record $8 million toward local projects and national charitable initiatives as part of the 2014 All-Star community legacy effort.
The All-Star community legacy effort by the Twins is the most extensive in All-Star Game history in both the amount of projects and the funding contributed.
"It's humbling," St. Peter said. "Obviously the All-Star Game itself is going to be a wonderful showcase of the ballpark, the city and the state but the legacy giving projects are going to be here long after the All-Star Game concludes. So it's really a chance to give back and make a difference to people who need help."
The ballots were also announced for both the American and National Leagues on Friday with fans being able to cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club sites with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB's 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting, including at Target Field starting on Friday until June 7.
MLB's All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB's 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.
For the sixth straight year, the ballot will also feature the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. Additionally, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will return for a 13th year with fans able to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league immediately following the announcement of the initial rosters for the Midsummer Classic.
It all leads up to the All-Star Game, which will be held in Minnesota for the first time since 1985 and will showcase Target Field, which opened in downtown Minneapolis in 2010.
"We are privileged to be able to host the All-Star Game," Pohlad said. "We believe its baseball at it's most spectacular. For two years now, the staffs of both Major League Baseball and the Minnesota Twins have worked diligently that will make Major League Baseball and our community proud."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.