The All-Star FanFest in St. Louis includes a sports card and memorabilia show, autograph signings…and plenty of media coverage.
For baseball devotees, it is a massive, interactive shrine to the game they worship, bringing them as close as ever to past players they’ve revered and the exploits of their current heroes.
About 450,000 square feet of America’s Center has been transformed into a feast of baseball and its history.
Inside the FanFest, which runs in conjunction with the All-Star Game, you can do everything from hit home runs to line up for autographs.
At memorabilia tables, fans can grab hold of a bat Rick Ankiel once cracked, run their hand over a base Albert Pujols guarded or wrap their fingers around a baseball Josh Hamilton signed.
On Friday, there were autographs to be had from baseball greats Ozzie Smith, Rollie Fingers and Bob Feller.
Todd Baumer drove more than five hours from Indiana to attend his sixth FanFest in a row. At 6:30 a.m., he was standing outside America’s Center with his son. They were third in line.
And by noon, they were in yet another line, this one to get autographs from Feller.
"I go from one line to the next," he said. "We stand in line 10 hours a day, every day." Baumer was glad FanFest was close to home this year so he could drive. He filled the bed of his pickup with memorabilia he wanted players to sign.
"It’s a nice father-son outing," he said.
The FanFest here is already on track to set an attendance record, topping the number of fans who attended last year’s festivities in New York.
Before the doors opened on Friday, 85,000 people had already purchased tickets, which range in price from $25 for kids and students to $30 for adults. Last year, 130,000 people attended all five days of the interactive theme park.
There’s plenty of history to buy at FanFest. A 1993 Babe Ruth baseball card was going for $3,300. A signed portrait of Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez was selling for $595.
The price of that first base Pujols guarded at Busch Stadium: $150.
Patrick Daly, the retail manager at St. Louis Cardinals Authentics, said even in a bad economy, business has held steady, mostly because he has lowered the prices of some items. On Friday morning, he sold a broken Colby Rasmus bat for $300. A year ago, Daly said, the bat would have sold for more than $400.
Related: Game Used Memorabilia on eBay