It's fun to be a fan at FanFest

When I posed the question – What does it mean for you to have the All-Star game here? – to Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, I thought for a brief moment that I could answer it.

I could have dozens of microphones and tape recorders in front of me amid cameras flashing and video cameras recording my every word. But just for one moment. I thought it could happen at the MLB All-Star FanFest in Anaheim.

I took the media hard-hat tour Thursday and removed my sports editor label to become a fan. Across the street from Disneyland, a baseball carnival is taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center.

I must admit, the MLB All-Star FanFest seems geared more toward youth, but it can bring out the kid in mostly any adult. That's what happened to me Thursday.

At heart, I'm a football lover, but I couldn't resist this opportunity to become a baseball player at this baseball amusement park.

Along our tour, it was easy to become wrapped in the game. The MLB All-Star Fanfest, which is in its 20th year, transformed roughly 450,000 square feet of the Anaheim Convention Center into a fantasy baseball land of interactive exhibits, clinics and seminars, memorabilia stops and many other attractions.

After our tour, we saw Carew give hitting lessons to kids. Then he answered questions during a makeshift press conference.

"It's funny," he said, starting to answer my question. "I played my first all-star game in Anaheim in 1967 as a rookie. To come back and be a part of it, it's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to be working for MLB and working for the Angels."

Carew is the spokesman for the MLB All-Star FanFest. He encouraged us and people in the community to be a part of the game.

"What do you hope people learn from the experience [at the MLB All-Star FanFest]?" someone asked.

Carew's answer helped me with what was ahead, taking on three of the interactive exhibits.

"I hope they learn that it's all about that you have the passion and that you want to learn how to play the game," he said. "If you want to play you should go out and try to do it. Don't let anyone stop you. Baseball is a sport that you don't have to be big … If you have heart and you have passion for the game go out and play it and have fun doing it."

That was enough for me to go all out at our next stop, an exhibit that required you to steal home. There was a different exhibit, called "Steal A Base, Steal A Taco." But there were no tacos for us, so we went to steal home.

We were allowed to borrow a pair of new Reeboks for our run. As we approached the exhibit, Reg Bronskill, the executive producer of MLB All-Star FanFest, told us funny stories of crazed fathers who try to beat their sons, stealing home and end up pulling a hamstring.

I laughed. And I laughed again, when it nearly happened to me. I raced to home and didn't slide, otherwise my right hamstring would now be wrapped. As it is, it's still tight.

But I couldn't deny the fun that was there. An employee was there acting as a base coach telling us when to go. When you finish, they cue a roar from the crowd. Of course, it's just sounds from a speaker, but I took a bow anyway.

Next up were the batting cages, where "easy" pitches were served to simulate the Home Run Derby. There were no home runs during my time, only foul balls and strikes. I did manage to hit one fair, but I think it would've been a double.

Finally we ended with a fielding exhibit. I tried to catch up to deep fly balls. There were different levels to start from, a minor-league level and a major-league one.

The major-league level gave me a major pain in my neck, as I tried to turn my head too quick to catch a ball.

I did catch one ball. Yes, I can make it in the minor leagues.

There are three days left of the MLB All-Star FanFest. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under.

I want to go again.

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