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Final Preparations Underway for MLB FanFest in D.C.

Last-minute preparations are being made to prepare for the thousands anticipated to attend the GEICO All-Star FanFest Friday through Tuesday at the Washington Convention Center in D.C.

To help break in a few interactive attractions and stations Wednesday before the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities begin, dozens of teenagers with the Greater Washington Boys and Girls swung in the batting cages, ran sprints and practiced how to toss and catch with three-time Olympic gold medalist softball player Lisa Fernandez.

“I’m not a sports person. I didn’t know the glove was supposed to be on the opposite hand that you don’t use to throw,” said Danielle Flowers, 17, a senior at Eastern Senior High School in northeast D.C. “I throw with my right hand. I don’t use my left hand for nothing, but it was still fun.”

Zion Utsey, 18, who resides in Northeast and is home-schooled, felt comfortable on the diamond because he’s participated in the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

“It’s a lot of different things going on,” he said. “It seems like it’s going to be a great event.”

The world's largest baseball, which stands 12½ feet in diameter with signatures from Hall of Famers such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Bert Blyleven, is on display at the Washington Convention Center in D.C. for the GEICO All-Star FanFest. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
The world’s largest baseball, which stands 12½ feet in diameter with signatures from Hall of Famers such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Bert Blyleven, is on display at the Washington Convention Center in D.C. for the GEICO All-Star FanFest. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Every part of the 400,000-square-foot convention center will be utilized for fans to experience several activities and view historic items, including:

• Virtual Reality Home Run Derby that calculates the ball’s distance.

• Reserve time to get autographs through Legends Reservation System.

• World’s largest baseball that stands 12½ feet in diameter.

Jackie Secaira-Cotto, director of special events for MLB, said the convention center will be one of the biggest venues used to host FanFest.

The building will open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. but close at 7 p.m. Tuesday to allow fans to travel home or elsewhere to watch the 89th annual All-Star Game at Nationals Park.

It will be the District’s first time hosting an All-Star Game since 1969, when the team housed the Washington Senators at at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

This year, three Nationals have been named National League All-Stars: pitchers Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle and outfielder Bryce Harper. Nationals shortstop Trae Turner is also in the running to make the team as online voting ends Wednesday.

Mayor Muriel Bowser plans to conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning to culminate FanFest at the convention center.

For more information on FanFest and other All-Star events in the city, go to www.allstargame.com.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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