FanFest is Major League Baseball's way of inviting fans to the All-Star party. While not on the level of Super Bowl Week, and perhaps more family friendly than events planned around NBA All-Star Weekend, FanFest provides ample opportunities to meet notable former players, learn about the game's history and snag a few autographs.
It runs July 8-12 at the Phoenix Convention Center, just a few blocks from Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.
At the center of it all is the Diamond, where current and former players will meet fans, if not rub a few elbows. Those appearing have yet to be announced, but past players have included Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., David Wright and Derek Jeter.
Take advantage of the Legends Autograph Program, where players are scheduled hand out photos with their signatures. Players for the Legends Autograph Program have yet to be announced, but in the past those attending included Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers and Gary Carter.
History plays a big part in baseball, with roots going back to the middle of the 19th century. As a result, history plays a big part of FanFest as well. In addition to exhibits from the Hall of Fame, visitors can learn about the Negro Leagues in an informative visual display.
The Hometown Heroes exhibit delves into the roots of the Arizona Diamondbacks, which stretch all the way back to the late 1990s. Those born this century may be surprised to learn that the team's stadium once was called Bank One Ballpark, and that the Diamondbacks (often shortened to D-backs) played a crucial role in the 2001 World Series. And were you aware that former New York Yankee Randy Johnson once pitched for Arizona? You will learn that and other odd-but-true facts at the Hometown Heroes exhibit.
Be sure to stop by the World's Largest Baseball. Standing 12 feet tall, the ball features signatures of such luminaries as Hank Aaron, Rod Carew and Ozzie Smith.
Doors open at 9 a.m. each day and tickets are timed to avoid a crush of visitors, especially those eager to learn about the history of the Diamondbacks.
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