Story Summary

All-Star Week 2013

 

The city has baseball fever as MLB players converge for the All-Star game, which will be hosted by the Mets at Citi Field.

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MIDTOWN (PIX11) - For most of the 20th Century, the Great American Pastime was indisputably baseball.  However, with the Super Bowl now pulling in well over 100 million viewers yearly, compared to an audience roughly one-fifth that size for the World Series, football may be able to claim the title now, nationwide.  In New York, however, it appears to be a different story.

“People here are knowledgeable about baseball,” said diehard Mets fan Bryan Kohler.  PIX11 News encountered him on the sidelines of the All Star Game Parade Tuesday afternoon.  The parade featured All Star Game players with their friends and family in the backs of open bed trucks driven across town on 42nd Street, which was covered in red carpet.

Window Sign

“This isn’t a college football town,” Kohler said, as he observed the fan fantasy unfolding before his eyes.  “This is a baseball town.”

“I’m not really a baseball fan, I’m a football fan,” said Crystal Sykes, while watching the parade on her lunch break.  She said that she’d made a point to come out and see the all stars with whom she was familiar, who were many, despite her love of football.  “It’s something I can tell my kids,” Sykes said.

Lotsa Crowd

A baseball town: New Yorkers lined 42nd St. Tuesday afternoon to watch their favorite players during the All-Star parade.

Her case, according to baseball historian Robert Mann, is representative of how some New Yorkers are.  “People are insane for the Giants and Jets,” said Mann, a professor at Caldwell College, New Jersey, “but they are really are nuts for the Yankees and Mets.”  He pointed out also that baseball season is 162 games, as opposed to the 16 in football.  “So it really is a long-term investment of passion,” said Prof. Mann.

He noted that four different baseball teams have called New York City home:  the Giants and Dodgers, as well as the Yankees and Mets, and that all of them, even the teams that have departed, have legions of fans.  Some of them were at Tuesday’s All Star Parade, enjoying seeing up close players they had seen on the field for years.

“It brings back great memories,” said Mark Serafino, who spoke with PIX11 News after having just seen members of the 1986 World Series champion Mets in the parade.  He beamed as he gushed, “[I was] seeing Doc [Gooden] while I’m wearing his jersey!”

Serafino clearly showed a love shared by many in the large, but not overly crowded group of spectators that lined the parade route along 42nd Street from Sixth Avenue to just past Third Avenue — more than a third of the width of Manhattan.

Mariano Rivera

“The passion that New York has for baseball is amazing,” Rivera told PIX11 News. “It’s amazing.”

Fans also show their appreciation with their spending.  New York’s two baseball teams generate about $800 million in revenue per year.  That’s more than 10 percent of revenue from all 30 major league baseball teams combined.

Statistics are one thing, heart is another.  The roles of local players in All Star activities evoked emotions local fans.  Connecticut native and New York Met Matt Harvey was the National League starting pitcher, and Met David Wright was the National League captain of the popular home run derby, while Yankee Robinson Cano captained the American League home run derby team.

A full summation of the Tri State’s affection for the sport of baseball was best said by a beloved, legendary New York Yankee, who was in Tuesday’s parade before preparing to try and close out the game at Citi Field for the American League team.  The game is likely Mariano River’s last.  He has been selected 13 times for the All Star game.

“The passion that New York has for baseball is amazing,” Rivera told PIX11 News.  “It’s amazing.”

NEW YORK (PIX11) -  The red carpet taking up two traffic lanes on East 42nd Street almost looked like it was baking in the sun, and while the parade of Major League All-Stars was a thrill to thousands of New Yorkers, it made life tough for thousands of others, trying to conduct their daily business.

“You want me to tell you it’s a real pain in the a–,” fumed tech salesman, Ben Schoolsky, who told PIX it took him forty minutes to walk across town.  “We couldn’t get a cab, the Citibikes didn’t work for us, so we’re hot and bothered.”

The parade of star players from the National and American leagues started at 1 pm, and the side streets near 42nd—between Sixth and Second Avenues—were paying for it with major traffic  back-ups.

A local Starbucks manager wondered why the parade was happening in midtown.

“Why couldn’t Queens get it?” asked Anigah Christie.  “Why is it in Manhattan?  Is the ‘All Star’ game in Manhattan?”

The heat index Tuesday was over 100 degrees, so delivery persons who were forced to park blocks away from their destinations had to walk many extra minutes—sometimes with heavy boxes—to get to their locations.  We met Kareem Casiano, who delivers wine for LS Delivery Service, parked on Lexington Avenue and 43rd Street.

“I’m behind a lot,” Casiano told PIX.  “About an hour and a half.”

We followed Casiano as he hauled a case of wine nearly three blocks to Pietro Ristorante, located on 43rd Street near Second Avenue.   When he put the case of wine down, he was relieved to get a break inside the air-conditioned restaurant.

Security guards in crisp suits, wearing earpieces, seemed to be staying cool outside the Westin Hotel, where many of the Major League players and their families were staying on 42nd Street, off Third Avenue.  A yellow box truck was ordered to back out of the hotel driveway.  41st Street, between Second and Third Avenues, was off-limits for most parking, to give spots to the Academy buses that were transporting the players to various locations.  The access road from the Queens Midtown Tunnel was also blocked, starting near 39th Street.

Bus driver, Benny Sierra—who was navigating his M 102 north on Third Avenue—seemed to be taking the traffic in stride.   When we asked him if the 94 degree heat was worse than the traffic, he quipped, “That’s for sure.”  Freddie Freeman, an all-star player with the Atlanta Braves, seemed to agree, when we called out to him during the parade.  How do you like the heat, Freddie? PIX asked.

“It’s hot,” he responded, “it’s hot!”

matt harvey

MIDTOWN (PIX11) – Matt Harvey, starting pitcher for the National Team in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, hit the streets for Jimmy Fallon to ask unwitting Mets fans about their favorite player.

Because Harvey only has one full season in MLB under his belt, it’s not surprising few of the people going for a stroll in the park failed to recognize his pretty-boy face. However, they were quick to praise his stellar 2013 season, and even mention his impressive appearance in ESPN’s 2013 Body issue.

At one point, Harvey even dons a Mets hat and produces his own baseball trading card to drop hints to his interviewees.  One person’s response? “He looks a little like you.”

The 24-year-old made his major league debut with the Mets on July 26, 2012. He grew up a Yankees fan in Groton, Conn. and gets to live out a childhood dream Tuesday night by throwing the first pitch for the National League.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://youtu.be/V0D8V0dCbf8

Web produced by Allison Yang

72-year-old Ron Hunt is a small-town country boy from Missouri.  These days, he walks a bit slower and needs a cane to get around.  However, the former Mets’ second baseman says nothing would keep him away from the Mets hosting the All-Star Game for the first time since 1964.  When he became the first Mets player ever to start in the Midsummer Classic, “My manager Casey Stengal pushed for me to become an All-Star, telling everyone I was having a better year than Bill Mazeroski.”

At the All-Star FanFest Hunt, Hunt and his wife of 52 years, Jackie, took a stroll down memory lane, made possible by a scrapbook from a fan.  It included a picture of Hunt with Yankees’ great Mickey Mantel, along with pictures and articles from the historic 1964 season. As the couple reflected on the halcyon days, Jackie remembers vividly what they did back in ’64 when they learned Hunt made the All-Star team: “We went out shopping for an air conditioner for our apartment.”

Hunt remembers his first All-Star Game like it was yesterday.  The 23-year-old was one of the toughest outs in baseball. He was a scrappy player batting over 300 in his All-Star year and led the league in being hit by pitches.   Hunt, who was runner-up to Pete Rose for Rookie of the Year in ’63, says he was not in awe of any of the future  Hall of Famers in the Midsummer Classic.

How surreal was it? A little known slugger was sent in to pitch for Hunt in the 9th inning of  the ’64 All-Star Game: “Manager Walter Alston came to me in the 9th inning  when we were trailing the Al, and told me Hank Aaron was going to pinch hit for me.”

Another surreal moment came at the All-Star FanFest.  An autograph-seeker produced what he claims are an actual pair of game-worn pants Hunt wore in the ’65 season — and that was a curve ball even Hunt didn’t  knew was coming. Hunt is mystified: “I didn’t know where he got my pants!”

Hunt has had a very successful career away from baseball.  He ran a youth baseball league for 18 years, but now he and Jackie run a 110-acre ranch, complete with cattle, in Wenztville, Mo.

(PIX11) — Mets’ phenom Matt Harvey is living the dream.

The boy who grew up a Yankees fan in Mystic, Conn., is now the Mets’ prodigy, and will be the starting pitcher for Tuesday night’s 84th All-Star Game.

The 24-year-old will become the youngest hurler to hold this honor since former Mets’ great, Doc Gooden, started in the 1988 All-Star Game at the tender age of  23. Harvey says the night will be extra special with his family and friends in attendance: “As a kid, you dream about playing in the All-Star Game … I am thankful for the opportunity and will cherish this for life.”

Harvey brings in impressive numbers with a 7-2 record, a 2.35 ERA and  leads the National League with 147 strikeouts at the halfway mark.  Harvey will become the first pitcher from the host team to start in an All-Star Game since Houston’s Roger Clemens did so back in 2004.

“Starting in the All-Star game is special, but doing so in your home park, Citi Field, makes me more comfortable heading into tonight’s game,” says Harvey.

Harvey will face the big boppers from the American League like Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano, yet Harvey isn’t fazed by this daunting task.  He says he’s waited all his life for this moment: “Obviously, these are the best of the best, but I will not change my approach for anything”.

From starter to closer, Yankees’ Mariano Rivera  makes his 13th and final All-Star appearance for the American League.  And what better place to do so than NYC?

“This is NYC, my home, although Citi Field is not my home park, it’s the All-Star and it means a lot.”  Yankees teammate, starting All-Star 2nd baseman Robinson Cano, makes his fifth All-Star appearance and is in awe of the success of Rivera: “He’s one of the best ever to pay the game.  He’s always professional and the perfect player.”

This is one of Mo’s best seasons ever: converting 30 of 32 saves with a 1.83 ERA. But will he be nervous as he takes the mound for the last time as an All-Star?

“I’m going to go into this game to have fun … but I will treat it like my last one.”

Rivera goes into his last All-Star Game unsure about his emotions, but he will do something special to commemorate his last go-around.  What will he do?  We’ll have to wait until Tuesday night.

All-Star fever has taken over the city.

Between FanFest, the Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Parade, fans just can’t get enough of America’s pastime.

The All-Star begins at 1 p.m, and will go down 42nd Street from Bryant Park to Third Avenue.

Fans are fired up and ready for Tuesday’s 84th All-Star game at Citi Field in Flushing.

As of Tuesday morning, brokers were still selling tickets running from $330 for standing room only spots, and more than $11,000 for a prime seat.

On Monday night, fans attended the Home Run Derby, a contest among the top hitters in the game to determine who can get the most home runs. After, many fans headed to the Westin Hotel on East 42nd street — right next door to PIX11, where they hunted for autographs from their favorite All-Stars.

At the hotel, which serves as headquarters for the game, Mark Cooper of Florida had a tough time with the Cincinnati Reds closer, Aroldis Chapman.  ” He throws 101.” So did he throw Mark an autograph?  “No. Not a nice guy.  He said he was with his family and now is not the time — that if I want an autograph I should buy a ticket to the game.”  Cooper said he couldn’t afford that, ” I guess I won’t be getting an autograph.”

citifield sign

But fans did have better luck with players like the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen who not only signed memorabilia but also spoke with fans.

He was extremely excited to be playing the Midsummer Classic in the Big Apple.  “It’s great that it’s here and we definitely enjoy it here every time,” McCutchen gushes.

The game will be great for New York, pumping between $115 and $192 million dollars into the local economy.

It’s the first time the Mets have hosted an All-Star game since 1964, when Shea Stadium opened.  Back then, Whitey Ford and four other Yankees played in the classic and one Met, Ron Hunt.  Hunt was the first Mets player to ever play in an All-Star game.

The Met’s Matt Harvey is scheduled to get the start for the National League on his home mound at Citi Field.

(PIX11) – About 40,000 baseball fans trying to leave Citi Field after the home run derby were left stranded on the 7 train!

Investigators say a track fire near the 103rd Street-Corona Plaza station caused the frustrating service outage about 10:30 Monday night.

They say it was sparked by an electrical issue.

Trains were shut down in both directions east of the 74th Street-Broadway station.

They were back on track just before midnight.

CITI FIELD (PIX11) - The Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and All-Star game at Citi Field in Queens is not just about celebrating America’s pastime in the company of family and good friends.

It’s also about money – and a lot of it.

If you’ve visited 126th street, on the less glitzy – and apparently more contentious side of Citi Field — you’ll see all of those All Star dollars are most likely not flowing right across the street through the string of busy auto care shops in what’s commonly referred to as the “Iron Triangle” of Willets Point.

You won’t starve, go thirsty, or go bored inside CitiField.

But once you leave the building all the buzz and the business is across the river in Manhattan.

In fact the Westin, on 42nd street, is the official hotel for this year’s All-Star game — right next door to PIX11’s newsroom.

Muffler shop owner Wais Mohibi says Queens is losing out big time on an economic opportunity — and so is he.

“Every time Citi Field throws something – a party or a baseball or whatever it is — it affects us in a way because of traffic jams. Customers cannot get here. They don’t want to come here to get their job done. So basically what happens to me is instead of getting 15 customers, I get two or three customers,” Mohibi told PIX11.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation – in a partnership with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall — is working on a solution that may please Citi Field’s customers, but doesn’t necessarily sit well with the business owners across the street.

The plan includes $3 billion in new private investment that would relocate the shop owners to make way for a sprawling new mall project.

Marshall tells PIX11, while Major League and Mets officials have been generous with their time and charity dollars, quote, “We know that there is a certain amount of ‘Manhattanitis’ surrounding events related to the All Star Game in Queens.”

Marshall adds, “We understand that visitors may want to experience Manhattan over the course of their visit, but we do ask that they consider eating a meal here, shopping in a store, or visiting other attractions in addition to Citi Field.”

NEW YORK (PIX11) – In just a few days, Major Leagues Baseball’s greatest players will come together at Citi Field and the fans are swinging hard with excitement for all-star week as millions of dollars are expected to come into the city.

For fans who want to actually go to the game, forbes.com says it will cost an average of $850 a ticket at this time.

So for everyone else, you can still join in on the fun around the city. One way is to come here to the Javits Center.

A packed Javits Center offers kiddos a little sliding, hitting and the priceless moment of this little girl becoming the next greatest pitcher.

But more than anything, fans say they’re glad to see baseball’s midsummer classic turns an even 80-years- old this year, after it began in 1933.

FanFest at the Javits Center will last until Tuesday, before the Mets host the game; their first time hosting, in fact, since 1964, the year Shea Stadium opened.

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