Streets of New York lined with All-Stars
NEW YORK -- It's not every day entire sections of Midtown Manhattan are blocked off to the point where absolutely no traffic is allowed through.
For the most part, to make that happen, there has to be something big involved, like a presidential motorcarde or, as was the case on Tuesday, ushering the best Major League Baseball players through town parade-style.
For about 90 minutes early in the afternoon, 42nd Street went from busy, bustling, loud and high-trafficked to subdued and regal, adorned in 80,000 square feet of red carpet and traveled by one exclusive group: 2013 All-Stars who were participating in the Major League Baseball All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet.
Grand Marshal Tom Seaver, the Hall of Famer who earned the nickname "Tom Terrific" during his 12-year, 198-win stint with the Mets, was the first baseball dignitary to travel down 42nd Street in the back of an open-air Chevrolet truck. He was followed by the National League and American League All-Stars, coaches, managers, former Mets greats and the 30 PEOPLE Magazine "Tribute for Heroes" winners.
With temperatures climbing steadily all morning and hitting a 90-93-degree peak just as the parade was in full swing, players sat in the trucks as comfortably as possible under the blazing sun. Most brought family members with them: parents, children, and in some cases grandparents, several of whom engaged the crowd by waving in acknowledgement.
Suffice it to say, the fans who lined up along the street saved their best cheers (and boos) for the most, shall we say, deserving. David Ortiz, typically dressed to the nines with just the right amount of Big Papi-ish bling, laughed and waved even as he was roundly booed by the anti-Red Sox contingent, which, in New York, includes just about everyone.
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia received about the same treatment, although it's fair to say the boos for both Red Sox players didn't seem to be nearly as loud as they are in a ballpark setting. These were more muted boos, the kind that you generally hear when fans are a little closer to the players than they're used to and for reasons unknown don't have the same bravado as they do when they're comfortably at a distance from the field. It was sort of a baseball version of the anti-golf clap.
There were plenty of players for New Yorkers to cheer during the parade, however. Davey Johnson's presence this week as a coach on Bruce Bochy's NL staff is somewhat of a footnote to where Johnson fits in historically in this town, given he was the manager for one of the most beloved clubs in franchise history: the 1986 World Series champion Mets.
A two-story, horn-honking "All-Star Bus" that had been all over the city since festivities began Sunday rolled through town as well, holding, among others, stars from the past and the present. Visible to the fans were former All-Star pitcher Dwight Gooden and current All-Star infielder David Wright, along with former Mets John Franco, Mike Piazza and Darryl Strawberry.
The fans who lined up along the streets of Manhattan weren't all Mets fans, of course. Yankees fandom was in full force as well, and it's probably not a coincidence that Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano were among the last All-Stars to travel through the procession.
Although the World Series trophy served as the caboose of this train ride, bringing up the rear in a symbolic gesture as the focus shifts toward the second half of the season and, eventually the playoffs, Rivera's place in the order was apparent.
The greatest closer of all time, preparing to close out his career, brought up the rear in a parade meant to salute the best of the best in Major League Baseball.
Under those terms, could there be a more fitting ending?