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San Francisco primed for All-Star Game

San Francisco primed for All-Star Game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Asked for his thoughts on why baseball's All-Star Game eclipses those in other major sports, Giants left-hander Barry Zito said, "Baseball has always been the bread-and-butter of America. People just want to know what's going on."

This year, the bread has a distinct sourdough flavor, and as usual, there's a ton going on.

The bustling schedule of All-Star Week events for the July 10 Midsummer Classic at AT&T Park was officially introduced at a news conference on Wednesday, during which San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom expressed hopes that this year's game will be the "biggest yet in All-Star history."

Baseball and city officials expect the DHL All-Star FanFest, to be held July 6-10 at the Moscone West Convention Center, to draw more than 100,000 people, which would be one of the largest crowds in the history of the interactive event. Approximately 50,000 FanFest tickets already have been committed to season-ticket holders of the San Francisco Giants, host team for the 78th All-Star Game.

Given the rich array of local and regional celebrities living in the San Francisco area, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game on July 8 promises to attract a lively roster of participants. The other feature of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday will be the XM All-Star Futures Game, featuring top Minor League prospects.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, set for July 9, will precede the Home Run Derby, which promises to be a uniquely San Francisco affair as the game's top sluggers take aim at McCovey Cove, the area of San Francisco Bay located beyond the right-field wall.

Then comes the game the next night, which will award home-field advantage for the World Series to the winner between the National and American Leagues.

The Giants have long been synonymous with the All-Star aura, and this year will be no exception as the franchise plays host to its fifth Midsummer Classic and third in San Francisco history.

All-Star Game Coverage

Center fielder Willie Mays, the greatest Giant of them all, attended the news conference and was introduced as an "overall ambassador" for this year's game by Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of business. It's a fitting choice, since Mays played in 24 All-Star Games, a record he shares with St. Louis legend Stan Musial, and holds numerous other All-Star marks.

Asked what the All-Star Game means to him, Mays delivered an old-school response which resonates today, given what's at stake. "First of all, the All-Star Game, to me, means winning," Mays said.

Zito, the charismatic pitcher who signed a seven-year, $126 million contract as a free agent with the Giants before this season, made his debut as the spokesperson for All-Star FanFest. A three-time All-Star, Zito extolled the FanFest as an event catering to grassroots fans.

"You don't need tickets (to the All-Star Game), which are so tough even for players to get," Zito said. "You don't have to be one of those lucky winners in that ticket draw."

Newsom, who played college baseball at Santa Clara University, received a ceremonial sample of the jersey that National League players will wear during Gatorade All-Star Workout Day and during batting practice on the day of the All-Star Game. Newsom's surname was in white lettering with the orange number "07" on the back of the jersey, which was black with orange trim. Consistent with the San Francisco theme, the "I" in "National," which appeared in orange capital lettering on the front of the jersey, was a rendering of a Golden Gate Bridge tower.

"This is about as good as it gets," a beaming Newsom said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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