Baseball fever was in the air at the Colorado Convention Center Tuesday afternoon, hours before the MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field.
Inside was Play Ball Park, a free week-long event hosted by the league. It was a baseball fan’s dream.
There were batting cages, indoor diamonds where kids played ball, historic memorabilia, an auction center and a sizable souvenir shop.
All 30 teams seemed to be represented by the large crowd.
Stacey Baugh and her son, Sebastian, flew in from Maryland this morning and headed right to the convention center.
Decked in Washington Nationals jerseys and carrying bags of T-shirts, the pair said they’re looking forward to seeing Juan Soto and all the other Nats players.
“My son and I watch baseball together often and we’re big Nat fans,” Baugh said. “He asked if we could go and it took a little bit of convincing but we’re here.”
Kamela Harbert, a Delaware native, didn’t need much convincing. She surprised her sons Blake and Spencer, both college baseball players, with tickets to the All-Star game.
“We wanted to surprise them for their birthdays,” Harbert said. “They’ve been playing baseball since they were about 6 years old. It’s been a great experience so far.”
Blake Harbert, outfitted in a New York Yankees jersey, said he’s excited for every player in the lineup. He’s a pitcher for a junior college in Maryland, while his brother plays outfield and first base for Ohio University.
“It’s cool to see the players actually play,” Blake Harbert said. “It’s definitely better than last year.”
Kamela Harbert continued, “We take it for granted, being able to get out and do things. Now, it makes you appreciate your experiences even more. We’ve never been out west and Colorado has been a beautiful experience.”
Leslie Lenz said the trip to Denver for All-Star week was her first time on a plane since the pandemic began.
“Everything was put on hold last year,” Lenz said. “This is our first trip anywhere, besides a close road trip. We’re so excited for the events, that any anxiety has been pushed to the back.”
Lenz and her son Connor are from San Diego and, of course, Connor was rocking the large Swagg Chain for the Padres.
The chain was Padres’ third baseman Manny Machado’s idea to boost morale for the team. It made its debut after the Padres landed in first place in the NL West.
Connor, who plays catcher, said he’s excited to see Fernando Tatís Jr., Padres shortstop and cover star for MLB’s The Show ’21.
Kathi Ball, Ant Almanza and Danny Eureste won’t be able to see their team all-stars play but Almanza said it is, what it is.
“We’re from Houston. Astros season ticket holders,” Almanza shrugged. “We were coming to see our guys play but in light of the circumstances… we’re still here to support the game.”
The Astros are the only team without representation at the All-Star Game.
Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Ryan Pressly all opted out of the Midsummer Classic for different reasons. And of course there is the sign-stealing scheme, but Ball said besides a few hecklers, the group clad in Astros orange were having a good time.
“Coors Field is beautiful,” Ball said. “And the staff are amazing and so friendly. We’re here for the love of the game.”
Tia and Trey Edmondson came to Denver for the love of the game as well.
The pair are from Atlanta and are die-hard Braves fans. They were ready to see the game from their home stadium, but it was moved to Colorado, after Georgia lawmakers passed strict voter access laws.
“We were disappointed,” Tia Edmonson said. “But we understood the basis. We had the time off anyways, so we said it doesn’t matter where the game is, we’re going. We’re here for baseball.”
The pair were also sad they’d be missing Braves’ left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. who’s out for the season with a torn ACL.
“We’re excited for the other players though,” Tia Edmonson said. “We can’t wait to see Ozzie and Freddie and of course Ohtani pitching.”
That would be Braves’ second baseman Ozzie Albies, first baseman Freddie Freeman and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani.
Armando Torres was immediately excited when the game was set to move to the mile high city. The Denver native said he was only a kid the last time the All-Star game was hosted in Denver.
“When I heard it was coming here, I was like, oh yeah,” Torres said nodding and grinning in approval. “It’s my first All-Star game and I get to bring my son.”
Torres said baseball is one of his favorite sports and the Rockies is his team. He’s an overall sports fan but Torres said there’s nothing like supporting your home team.
“Baseball brings everybody together,” Torres said. ” It’s just one big community and I’m looking forward to a fun game. Rockies baseball, we’re always here for it.”