- - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game last came to Washington 49 years ago, with the National League prevailing 9-3 over the American League on July 23, 1969, at RFK Stadium.

The Midsummer Classic returns this season, with Nationals Park hosting the game on Tuesday, July 17. But these days, the game itself is just one part of a long, celebratory week of baseball, with events like the All-Star Futures Game and the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball game on Sunday, July 15, and the Home Run Derby on Monday, July 16.

All-Star Week has even outgrown one venue — fans, players and media will choose from activities held all over town, including the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which is hosting the All-Star FanFest from July 13-17.

“They started (FanFest) in 1991 in Toronto,” Matt Bourne, an MLB vice president, told The Washington Times on Tuesday. “It starts on Friday morning and goes until Tuesday.”

Among former players slated to be part of FanFest are Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Hall of Fame outfielders Tim Raines and Andrew Dawson, according to Bourne.

All three are former members of the Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington in time for the 2005 season. Rodriguez played in Washington from 2010-11 and was the first Nationals player named to the Hall of Fame.

There will also be pitching and batting cages with the latest technology so fans can test their skills, according to Bourne. The Commissioner’s Trophy will be at the Washington Convention Center, as well as items from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Other venues in the city that will host All-Star events include Gallaudet University and the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

Sam Atkinson, associate athletic director for communications at Gallaudet, said the school in Northeast Washington will host youth games in July. There will be 11 teams from the United States and Puerto Rico, with ages 14 to 16.

“The Commissioner’s Cup Tournament will be onsite from July 11-17. Most games will take place at the Nationals Youth Academy. A few games will take place on campus (at Gallaudet) from July 13-15,” according to Atkinson. The athletes “will be staying on campus at the (Model Secondary School for the Deaf) dorms.”

Gallaudet is about three miles north of Nationals Park and is the only university for the deaf in the United States. The Division III school’s baseball coach is Curtis Pride, 49, a Washington native who grew up in Silver Spring and played in the big leagues from 1993 to 2006.

Pride made his major league debut in 1993 with the Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington in time for the 2005 season at Nationals Park.

Another site for All-Star events is the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy at Fort Dupont Park in Southeast Washington. The academy has hosted high school and college baseball and is the home field for Georgetown and Howard universities softball games.

The All-Star Futures Game will include some of the best minor league prospects in the game. Former Nationals who have taken part in the event include injured Triple-A outfielder Victor Robles (2017), shortstop Trea Turner (2015), center fielder Michael A. Taylor (2014), outfielder Bryce Harper (2011), left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez (2006) and infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick (2006).

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