While MLB did a nice job this year, it was far more commericalized than five years ago. Roughly half of the conference hall resembled a baseball card show. And it was sad to see all-time greats like Gaylord Perry, Bert Campaneris, Rollie Fingers, and George Foster trying to sell their signature and looking bored as hell because very few fans were willing to pay the asking price. With the money the Fan Fest was bringing in ($35/pop times several thousand fans), couldn't MLB have paid these fellows an appearance fee instead of subjecting them to the embarrassment they no doubt felt?
On the upside, there was Mookie Wilson, who has become the grand marshal of pre-All Star game activities, spending countless hours having his picture taken with fans, signing autographs, and giving interviews and Q and A's to pretty much anyone that asked.
And then there was Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, as well as old time Mets like Ed Charles, Art Shamsky, and Ed Kranepool signing for fans as well if, of course, they were willing to stand on line for two hours.
The best time spent was at the clinics, the batting cages, and the homerun derby set up for fans. The lines were lengthy for those, as well, but not nearly as long as waiting to get an autograph.
There were also excellent exhibits on the Negro Leagues and baseball history (okay, the latter was a display for an auction on Tuesday, but many of the relics were very interesting) that a fan could spend hours walking through.
If you couldn't get a ticket to the Futures Game, Homerun Derby or All Star Game, the Fan Fest is a very good way to get a taste of baseball's midsummer classic.