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Fans, families take over Durham Bulls stadium to kick off Triple-A All-Star Week

By Nolan McCaskill
nmccaskill@newsobserver.com

DURHAM Everyone at Durham Bulls Athletic Park was an All-Star on Saturday.

Baseball fans of all ages, some equipped with gloves and baseball bats and others with caps and sunglasses to help endure the heat, had a major league experience at All-Star Fan Fest.

Matt Carter brought his family all the way from their home in Danville, Va. Carter, 44, said Fan Fest was a family-friendly event.

“We’ve had a good time today,” Carter said, as his son and daughter sat quietly eating ice cream in a shady area to cool off from the afternoon heat. “We’re just enjoying all of the events they have out here.”

From behind-the-scenes tours of the Durham Bulls clubhouse to a kids’ station to batting practice, Fan Fest had something for everyone, regardless of age.

“This place is always fun to come down to,” said Joe Terminiello of Cary. “The fact that they open up the field and give you tours through it, let you come out on the field for batting practice all for free, that’s pretty cool.”

For Terminiello, 43, who stood at home plate in his batting stance awaiting pitches with his family cheering him on, his batting practice experience could be summarized in one word.

“Great,” he aid. “I just wanted to hit one. I wasn’t really prepared, but it’s just good to be out here in the stadium.”

Tomen Tse, 37, of Raleigh, knocked the kid-in-a-candy-store analogy out of the park. Tse was like a kid at a baseball field. And his wife was there to capture the moments.

Tse hit a few balls at batting practice and raced the blur that is Billy Hamilton, a graphic of the 23-year-old Cincinnati Red who runs from base to base in 2.9 seconds next to the base-running station.

“I just did the race,” Tse said with excitement. “It was fantastic. That guy is really fast. I got a 4.28. Not bad.”

Three of James Markham’s sons raced Billy Hamilton, too, as well as one another for the fastest time in the family. Markham, 37, ran last, carrying his 2-year-old son.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Markham, a lawyer from Durham, said of Fan Fest. “They love baseball, and it’s cool to come out here on the field. It’s just a lot of fun to be out here together.”

A few hours elapsed from the afternoon of family fun, and then the party started. The gates for the All-Star Block Party opened at 6 p.m. Food trucks decorated Blackwell Street as fans began to take over the street before the band Lockdown took the stage.

Some fans took pictures with mascots and family while others explored the food trucks.

Clint Hannah, 24, a law student at North Carolina, brought two of his friends from Atlanta to Durham for All-Star Week. They started their All-Star experience with batting practice, “which was only a little embarrassing,” Hannah joked. Then they took a tour of the ballpark before they came back for the block party.

“We came out here and got some food, grabbed a few beers and listened to some music,” Hannah said.

Hannah said he didn’t know what to expect of All-Star Week, but said it’s been fun so far. Plus, the tickets were cheap, he added. The group’s biggest challenge, other than batting practice, was choosing which food truck to order at.

“We didn’t know what food truck to get because they sounded good, so I think we all decided to get a different one,” Hannah said. “We figured we could maybe run sometime later this week, but you have so many awesome options.

“Maybe later this week I’ll hit the gym, but after today I’m probably gonna sample two or three food trucks and just not tell my girlfriend how much I’m eating.”

McCaskill: 919-829-4567
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