07/15/2003 9:19 PM ET
ASG goes off without a hitch
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Jerry Reinsdorf knew all about the tireless work during the past year from the White Sox "young people," the endless hours put forth in preparation to host the 2003 All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field.
He was well aware of the organization that went into every event covering the five days that make up the All-Star festivities, sometimes planning went all the way down to the final minute to ensure the maximum enjoyment for the paying customer.
But the White Sox chairman still did not expect complete perfection from the start of the John Hancock FanFest Friday morning at McCormick Place to the last out of Tuesday night's 74th All-Star Game. That's pretty much what he received.
Nicholas Wheeler, 7, of Kankakee, Ill, throws a pitch at the Fantasy Pitching booth during the All-Star FanFest. (AP Photo)
"I thought it would come off great because I know how organized everyone was," said Reinsdorf, prior to Tuesday's contest. "But I would not have been shocked if something went wrong.
"There are too many moving parts to keep this thing going as smoothly as they have. This has really been great. It's electrifying, that's what it really is."
The planning for the week of events went into full force about one year back, with Major League Baseball's increased assistance as the event grew closer. But the preparations began three years ago, with Tiffany Walker leading the way as the All-Star Game coordinator.
Reinsdorf also mentioned the city of Chicago and Mayor Richard J. Daley were of great help in putting together the five-day event.
"This city really has been great," Reinsdorf said. "The police have been terrific. They all know they have a good thing, and they want to help."
Chicago's Convention and Tourism Bureau estimates that $50 million could be brought in by All-Star week, not to mention the thousands of hotel rooms booked for the activities. The biggest winner, though, might be the White Sox themselves.
Due to a few unfortunate isolated fan incidents, the White Sox have taken some unnecessary shots in the public eye during the past few years. The same could be said for U.S. Cellular Field, with people not focusing enough on the renovations made recently to upgrade the facility.
In watching the RadioShack Futures Game, the Century 21 Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself, the baseball nation can get a clearer view of what White Sox baseball and baseball in Chicago is all about.
"The renovations done to the park really make this place look really nice," said Seattle starter Jamie Moyer, making his first All-Star appearance after previously pitching on the North Side of town for the Cubs. "The whole thing has been very tastefully done."
"It's an event," added White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who threw batting practice for the American League prior to Tuesday's game. "To see the park filled and all the excitement, it's a big day for the White Sox and Chicago. It was a big three days for both."
Reinsdorf talked of how nobody was turned away from FanFest, and that people have stopped him on the street to tell him how great the week of functions turned out to be. Those events ran the gamut from FanFest to the All-Star Gala at the Field Museum Monday night.
It was the Home Run Derby that really caught Reinsdorf's eye. The amount of new people seeing U.S Cellular and the show put on by the White Sox didn't go unnoticed by the chairman either.
"So many people are here who have never been in this park." Reinsdorf said. "It's amazing how many have commented on how beautiful the park is and how much they like it.
"The crowds have been great, and we've had no security problems at all. Maybe in twenty years, we will do it again."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.