St. Louis is the center of the baseball world.
The 80th All-Star Game begins tonight at 7 o’clock at the new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, a decidedly red downtown St. Louis. Festivities began over the weekend. Cardinal fans rooted for their favorite, First Baseman Albert Pujols, during the Home Run Derby Monday, but Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder, also a first baseman, won the contest. Fielder edged Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz 6-5 in the final round of the contest. Pujols had a flare for the dramatic, forcing a swing-off to advance to the second round where his evening ended. St. Louis native Ryan Howard, first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, also was eliminated in the semifinals.
The Home Run Derby drew a crowd of 45,981. It raised a total of $545,000 for Boys & Girls Club of America. State Farm contributed enough to increase the total to $665,000.
Tonight, the actual game will be played. The National League looks to break a long losing streak. The National League beat the American League 6-0 in 1996 in Philadelphia. It hasn’t won since.
St. Louis will be well represented on the National League team. Pujols, catcher Yadier Molina and relief pitcher Ryan Franklin have been selected to the team. Kansas City pitcher Zach Greinke is the only Royal at the All-Star game and likely will take the mound for the American League. In fact, it appeared Greinke had a chance to start the game, but Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who is guiding the American League, chose Toronto Blue Jay Roy Halladay to start the game instead. Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, managing the National League squad, has chosen San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum, as his started. Both are 10-2 this year.
Ceremony precedes play. President Barack Obama, a Chicago White Sox fan, throws to Pujols. Cardinal Hall of Farmer Stan Musial is expected to be on hand for the ceremony.