RALEIGH — Potential stars in the making are coming to Durham, the host of Minor League Baseball’s Triple-A All-Star Week. The week kicks off with Fan Fest before the Home Run Derby and concludes with the All-Star game.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park will open its doors Saturday at 11 a.m. for the Fan Fest. The free event will give fans a look inside the newly renovated stadium and allow them to take the field for batting practice.
Fans can enter through the visitors’ clubhouse, where historical All-Star pieces will be on display.
Fan Fest will also feature behind-the-scenes tours. All 30 Class AAA teams will have jerseys on display throughout the Bulls’ clubhouse, along with the Governors’ Cup – the trophy awarded to the champion of the International League each year. Fans will also have the chance to meet Wool E. Bull and have a photo op at the first-base dugout.
The ballpark will also have kid-friendly stations with inflatables, face painters and balloon and caricatures artists. The three-hour event will also have a speed pitch station, base timing, a mascot home run derby and concessions.
The free All-Star Block Party kicks off at 6 p.m. on Blackwell Street. Food trucks, beer tents and live music will take over the street until 10 p.m.
In addition to performances by Lockdown and Spaceship Days, The Baseball Project will perform at 8:45. The rock group includes R.E.M. members Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Scott McCaughey and The Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn. The group released its third album, “3rd,” in March.
Six stars will be at bat Monday for the Triple-A Home Run Derby.
Mike Hessman, Dan Johnson and Jesus Aguilar will represent the International League in the derby while Allan Dykstra, Mike Jacobs and Francisco Pena will represent the Pacific Coast League.
Hitters will receive eight outs in the first round of the derby. When the top four advance, they will get an additional eight outs.
In the final round, 76-year-old Clay Council – known for the round he threw Raleigh native Josh Hamilton in 2008 when he won the Triple-A Home Run Derby – will pitch against the final two hitters.
But the star of the show may be the ballpark’s signature Snorting Bull, a sign made famous by the movie “Bull Durham.” Every fan in attendance will receive a free steak taco from Moe’s Southwest Grill the first time the bull is hit. One fan will win an additional $100 gift card to the Angus Barn Steakhouse each additional time the bull is hit. And if the Snorting Bull is hit 15 times, one fan will win $15,000.
All-Star Week will conclude with Wednesday’s All-Star game, where the International League All-Stars will line up against the stars of the Pacific Coast League. The IL team features four Durham Bulls players – Mikie Mahtook, Wilson Betemit, Merrill Kelly and Mike Montgomery – and two Durham staff members in manager Charlie Montoyo and trainer Mike Sandoval. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m.
Eighty-six Triple-A All-Stars have gone on to become All-Stars in the majors, including Derek Jeter, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza and Chase Utley.