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The 75th All Star Game

BASEBALLPARKS.COM attends the mid-season classic at Minute Maid Park

Attending the MLB All Star Game is something that every fan needs to do at some point. In case you weren't on hand for the festivities in Houston on July 13, 2004, this pictorial essay will let you know what the evening was like.

On the way to the game

Even before you've plucked your suitcase off the belt in the baggage claim area of the airport, you're reminded of two very important things: the All Star Game is in Houston, and that This one counts. But, hey, didn't the previous year's game "count," too, when the American League gained home-field advantage in the World Series when they beat the NL in the 2003 All Star Game?

Right on your way from Houston Hobby Airport to Minute Maid Park, there is a store that you need to visit. No, they don't sell souvenirs. Instead, all they offer is furniture! The Finger Furniture Center is just off I-45 at Cullen Blvd., and it happens to be located on the very spot of Houston's old minor-league ballpark, Buff Stadium. There is a wonderful area in the basement of the store that not only provides a beautifully displayed history of pro sports in Houston, it also shows you the exact spot of the park's home plate.

Lines, lines, everywhere lines

Security was tighter than for a typical game, and the lines waiting to enter the park were quite long.

Inside, the longest lines were in the souvenir shops. A veritable buying frenzy was going on, as fans snatched up caps, shirts, and every manner of souvenir of the night's big game.

Your opinion counts; pre-game show

Major League Baseball conducted a survey of the fans to find out if the All Star Game experience measured up to their expectations. Instead of having researchers ask the questions, fans were invited to use this touch-screen kiosk to register their opinions.

On the right, the Fox TV crew broadcast the pre-game show from a set on the field near first base.

A bad idea and a good idea

I've always enjoyed the player introductions before big sporting events. The introductions before tonight's game included a very bad idea and a good, novel idea. First the bad: when the two managers were introduced, pyrotechnics were set off. This might look cool on TV, but it's a dumb idea to do this in an indoor space (Minute Maid Park's retractable roof was closed) because the smoke lingers and lingers.

The clever idea involved having the players arrive on the field not from the dugout, but from out of the stands. As their names were being announced, the players made their way down an aisle, onto the top of the dugouts, and down a special set of stairs onto the field. In the lower left corner of the right-hand shot, Sammy Sosa has emerged from the crowd and is navigating the top of the dugout before stepping down onto the field. I've never seen player introductions done this way, and I liked the idea a lot.

Go to Page 2 of the All Star Game photo essay