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Apr 13, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; MLB umpires Mark Carlson, Scott Barry, and Jeff Nelson stand for God Bless America in front of the All Star Game 2014 logo at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Once just an All-Star break to now a full week, this year's Midsummer Classic has arrived

There was a time when the All-Star break was just that, a break. It gave the players a break and the best of the best played in a single game which was more or less for fun and/or bragging rights between two leagues. Over the years the All-Star break and game have expanded, not in length the game still goes nine innings and the break is still Monday through Thursday, but in all that it entails. The game now gives the winning league home field advantage for the World Series and attractions like the Home Run Derby have been added. 2014 marks the biggest and most expansive All-Star break Major League Baseball has ever seen.

The 2014 All-Star break is that is now being called “All-Star Week,” began Friday and will end Wednesday and Thursday when everyone from players to fans will have the two days off.  The players may not be on break until the last game ends on Sunday but the fans are. This year the fans will get the full MLB experience.

Friday, All-Star Week kicked off with a very special two-inning game. The first baseballs to hit Target Field in Minnesota were hit by children. The very special two-inning Miracle/Challenger game was held for children with mental and physical disabilities.All-Star Fan Fest, brought to you by T-Moblie, also began bright and early at 9:00 am. It will run Friday through Monday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm and Tuesday until 6:00 pm just prior to the big game and will include everything from clubhouse/dugout tours to Q & A sessions with former MLB and AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) players to an All-Star video game challenge and so much more. Some of the big names you might see there include Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Orlando Cepeda, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers,Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield.

“It’s awesome,” Blyleven said. “When I was an All-Star in the ’70s and ’80s, you just kind of showed up. But now they have a chance to interact with the fans. They’re going to be here signing. It’s a lot of fun. They’re going to be giving back.”

Saturday’s main event, that fans can attend after another full-day of exploring all that is Fan Fest, is the Target All-Star Concert presented by  Budweiser featuring Imagine Dragons with special guest Atmosphere. Sunday morning fans can unleash their inner athlete by participating in the Nike Color Run MLB All-Star 5K.

Later back at Target Field, Taco Bell All-Star Sunday starts off with the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game where top prospects will compete and fans can check out who might be their next favorite big leaguer. The lineup for the futures game can be found on the MLB.com Pipline. Following the Futures Game is the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game where some of the big names include actor James Denton to Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch to the greatest lead-off hitter of all time, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

“I love being around baseball. It’s a great couple of days, and I’m excited,” Finch said. “I’m honored to represent softball at the All-Star Game.”

Monday brings fans the Gillette Home Run Derby which will have a new bracket style format this year. The American League will be represented by captain Jose Bautista, Brian Dozier, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and Adam Jones. The National League team will consist of  captain Troy Tulowitzki, Yasiel Puig, Justin Morneau, Giancarlo Stanton and Todd Frazier.

Tuesday is the big day of the 85th  MLB All-Star Game. Coverage begins at 6:30 CT on FOX. During the game fans will be given yet another chance to participate by voting both online at MLB.com and on Twitter for the game’s MVP sponsored by Pepsi.

After one league wins home field advantage and the MVP trophy is awarded both fans and players can take Wednesday and Thursday as their real break from all the festivities before baseball resumes again on Friday, July, 18. 

 

Tags: 2014 MLB All Star Game All-Star Fan Fest Home Run Derby MLB All-Star Week MLB Futures Game

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