Hunterpalooza, Part 1.
Hunter Pence vowed to enjoy every moment of his first All-Star experience, and with only a half-day in the books, it’s clear he’s having a ball.
Heck, he even enjoyed the hour-long media session, the one activity on the schedule that most players would probably rather just skip. Not Pence. Not only did he grant interviews, he even conducted a few himself, grabbing my handy camcorder and working the room, asking questions of some of his favorite players: Ted Lilly, Brad Hawpe, Orlando Hudson…and, of course, teammate Miguel Tejada.
We’ll have more on that later. In the meantime, here is the first batch of pictures, accompanied by a play-by-play account of Hunterpalooza, Part I.
11:35 a.m. CT:
All-Stars filed in the interview room and found their booths, marked by a nameplate with their team’s logo. Pence, not one to sit still for very long, used the final minutes before the doors opened to reporters to mingle with his National League teammates. Here he is chatting with Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
The doors open, the media pours in, and Pence grabs my video camera and goes to work. His first interview is with Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe.
Pence moves on to Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson, who says to Pence, “Every now and then you go deep, and I say, “OK, that was a two or three-run shot. And now, I’ve got to get him back.”
Pence finally makes his way back to his seat, where he’s interviewed by a handful of reporters, including the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice (left) and MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.
Pence really wanted to interview Cubs lefty Ted Lilly. When the media crush finally disippated, Pence asked the burning question everyone wants to know: “Do you know what it’s like to face you? Do you have any idea how not fair that is?” Lilly: “I think I’m a little more nervous facing you than you are facing me.” (I didn’t believe him.)
Tejada was in a booth not far from Pence. Asked about what Tejada brings to a team, Pence answered: “Miggy’s the show. He’s always entertaining. I’m learning a lot from him. We say he has a sixth tool — when it’s clutch time, he’s one of the great players. He’ll fire you up. When Miggy says it, he has a way of firing you up. I love the way he leads. I look up to him.”
As you can imagine, Albert Pujols, one of the biggest stars in the game no matter where the All-Star Game is held, is obviously a huge story this week. It couldn’t have worked out any better for the Cardinals — the year they host the All-Star Game, their marquee player is the starting first baseman, and he’s also participating in the Home Run Derby. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was named the starting catcher.
Family time: Pence’s entire family is here to enjoy the experience. Here he is holding his nephew, Striker.
Hunter and his dad, Howard.
After a chaotic walk to the ballpark — ESPN crews were also following Pence around, which attracted the attention of the fans on the streets, which in turn turned the casual stroll into something more Elvis-like — we arrived to the home clubhouse, headquarters for the National League team.
Holding his BP jersey: