Twins legends Blyleven, Carew, Molitor and Oliva named spokesmen for FanFest
MINNEAPOLIS -- It comes as no surprise, given his impressive career with his hometown Twins, but Joe Mauer was named Major League Baseball's 2014 All-Star Ambassador on Thursday.
With the All-Star Game set to be held at Target Field on July 15, the St. Paul, Minn., native will represent MLB and the Twins. Mauer joins several stars who have served in that role in recent years, including Torii Hunter, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton and David Wright.
Additionally, Twins legends Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva were named as spokesmen of T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center from July 11-15.
"It's going to be a great event," Mauer said. "It's not just one day. It's a whole week, and really months leading up to it. I've been fortunate to participate in a few of them during my career. So I know we'll put on a good show in Minnesota. The baseball world is going to see what great fans we have in Minnesota and our beautiful ballpark."
Mauer, 30, is plenty familiar with All-Star Game festivities, as the 11-year veteran has been an All-Star six times, including last year, when the Mets hosted the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field in New York. But this is the first year he'll be eligible to make the All-Star team as a first baseman. He made the move from behind the plate after suffering a season-ending concussion late last season.
He said he talked to Wright about his experience last year, and he hopes to be able to both play in the game and serve as ambassador.
"Hopefully, I'll be real busy and be there Tuesday night representing the team, too," Mauer said. "But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I'm looking forward to it."
Mauer, Blyleven, Molitor, Carew and Oliva will be tasked with helping generate awareness about all of the events that occur during 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 and the 85th MLB All-Star Game on July 15.
"It's an honor to be an ambassador," said Blyleven, who joked he wanted a limo with the flag of the Netherlands to take him around to the different events. "I've participated in a few myself in 1973 and '85, which was here. So it's been a long time since the Twins have had the great honor of hosting the All-Star Game."
Oliva echoed Blyleven's statements, as he's looking forward to helping promote this year's Midsummer Classic after representing the American League and the Twins in eight straight All-Star Games from 1964-71.
"It's an honor for me to participate in another All-Star Game," Oliva said. "It's a little bit different when I played. I was so lucky. I still dream about my first All-Star Game as a rookie playing with all those big shooters like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew."
All-Star Week also features FanFest, which is the world's largest interactive baseball fan event. It's set to feature more than 400,000 square feet of baseball-related attractions.
At FanFest, fans can practice their baseball skills during clinics hosted by MLB legends and current players; hit in the batting cages; view a collection of MLB trophies, including the Commissioner's Trophy; explore exhibits from the National Baseball Hall of Fame; take photos with and get autographs from former Twins players, MLB Legends and Hall of Famers and more.
"All-Star Week has become a big deal," said Molitor, a seven-time All-Star during his playing career. "It's always special for the players, but the size of the event has grown exponentially over the last decade or so. So we're privileged to have one of the game's best players over the last decade to be not only from this area, but to represent us in this All-Star Game. It's pretty special."