The big baseball bash of the summer hits D.C.

If you’re attending the 89th MLB All-Star Game events, here are some tips to avoid pitfalls

The tourist season extends year-round in Washington, D.C., but it’s most apparent in the summer when you will find more people than usual standing in line to see the Hope Diamond or venture to the cramped enclaves of the Washington Monument’s top.

Each summer, D.C. hosts events to entice people beyond the free museums and historical sites, such as the theatrical Capital Fringe Festival and Smithsonian Folklife Festival. A special big event this year is Major League Baseball’s 89th All-Star Game between top players in the National League and American League.

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The signed photo the writer received at the 1995 All-Star Game. [Shay photo]

I was a fervent baseball fan growing up in D.C. and later the Dallas area, where one of the old Washington Senators’ franchises moved. I attended Senators and Rangers games with my dad, who played baseball in high school himself. He was such a big fan that the day my older sister was born and Mom told him her water broke and it was time to go to the hospital, he waved her off, pleading to watch one more pitch of a baseball game on TV. Try doing that these days and see how long you remain married.

The Senators stunk, but I didn’t care. He didn’t either. It was an exciting event, fun, and our time to bond.

My interest in baseball waned as an adult, though I attended the 1995 All-Star Game in Arlington, Tx., a close contest won by the National League. I mainly remember meeting and getting a signed photo of Rollie Fingers, who sported one of the bossest handlebar mustaches in the game. After my son was born and he gravitated to the game, we became fans of the Nationals, attending numerous games at reasonable prices and meeting several players.

The All-Star Game has evolved into almost a full week of events, starting in D.C. on July 13 when the All-Star FanFest kicks off at the convention center with a wide range of hands-on activities, sessions by players and other fun opportunities. Closer to Nationals Park will be the Play Ball Park where youth baseball and softball players can get tips and more. A softball game between active duty military service men and women starts at 5 p.m. at Nats Park.

On Saturday, there will be a 5K run along with the FanFest. Then on Sunday, the All-Star Futures Game involving top prospects — the future stars — is at 4 p.m. at Nats Park. A softball game involving celebrities follows. The Home Run Derby is Monday evening and All-Star Game Tuesday evening. The FanFest and Play Ball Park will be open all five days.

Since a lot of people coming to this baseball bash might be relatively new to D.C., here are a few tips I’ve picked up through the years:

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A trip to a ballpark can make you feel like a kid again. Preston with former Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche. [Shay photo]
  • If you drive, be careful where you park. Many signs are confusing, often contradicting each other. Some spots are reserved for local permit holders. Others have rush-hour restrictions. Still others have weird rules that are often unclear. It’s probably best to park in a lot or garage if you don’t know how to decipher government legalese. D.C. is not good in a lot of areas, but it is excellent at issuing parking tickets and towing vehicles. One of the most value-friendly lots is on South Capitol Street under the I-395/295 Freeway.
  • Metro is fairly efficient, except when the system breaks down or decides to stop early before the games end. Metro officials promise the service will stay open late enough for the signature events on Monday and Tuesday. If it doesn’t, there is always Uber. That reminds me, I should sign up to be an Uber driver for that week….
  • Look for tickets to events on third-party sites like Stubhub and VividSeats. Tickets for the Futures Game were selling remarkably cheap starting at $5, though fees might about double that amount. Tickets to the two big events will still cost a hefty price tag. I can vouch for those two sites being safe. Others likely are, but I haven’t tried others besides those two.
  • Don’t wear a MAGA or Obama hat; for a few hours, even I like to get away from politics, though I realize professional megasports can’t really do that. Hats of opposing teams, except for the Braves, Phillies or Mets, are fine.
  • Check out the nearby Navy Yard area. Forbes recently designated it as one of the “coolest” places on the planet. While that is certainly debatable, the neighborhood has some nice places to eat and relax by the Potomac River, even a fountain you can wade through and a dog park.
  • Read up on what’s available at events before you go. If you’re going to FanFest, you could time it to catch Juan Marichal or another Hall of Fame player.

Kevin Shay is a general assignment reporter for the Loudoun Tribune, among other publications. He has written for The Dallas Morning News, Washington Post’s Gazette and others.

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Written for 45+ newspapers/mags. Written some books — see https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-J.-Shay/e/B004BCQRTG. Visited 48 states, 30+ countries.

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