SAN DIEGO - A Comic-Con of sorts for baseball enthusiasts, one of the major events tied into the All-Star Game, opened today at the San Diego Convention Center.
The five-day MLB FanFest will feature appearances by numerous former players who will offer instruction and take part in question-and-answer sessions, along with hands-on activities like home run derbies, batting cages and opportunities to throw pitches and steal bases.
The player lineup for today includes popular former Padres like Trevor Hoffman, Dave Winfield, Kurt Bevacqua, Randy Jones, Steve Garvey, Chris Gomez, Juan Eichelberger, Bobby Jones and Archi Cianfrocco. Hall of Fame slugger Orlando Cepeda was also scheduled to make an appearance Friday.
"We're just inviting people from all over the world to converge on San Diego," Winfield told a local TV station. "It's a tremendous day."
The roster for upcoming days is a veritable who's who of stars dating back to the 1970s and Padre fan favorites. Among them are Fred Lynn, Dave Dravecky, Rollie Fingers, Jesse Orosco, Kevin Mitchell, Luis Tiant, Mark Loretta, Chris Gwynn, Garry Templeton, Steve Finley and David Wells.
Also set to show up are Heath Bell, Gaylord Perry, Damian Jackson, Andy Ashby, Ferguson Jenkins, Greg Vaughn, Scott Linebrink, Gary Sheffield, Dale Murphy, Tony Oliva, Benito Santiago, Tony Gwynn Jr., Ferguson Jenkins, Brian Giles, Sterling Hitchcock, Bert Campaneris, Fred McGriff, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Vladimir Guerrero, Ryan Klesko, Chris Cannizzaro, Terry Kennedy and Randy Ready.
Appearances are also scheduled by softball stars Lisa Fernandez and Jennie Finch, and Vera Clemente, widow of Roberto Clemente.
Artifacts from the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum will be available for viewing, organizers said.
The FanFest will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Monday, and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $35 for adults, $30 for seniors 65-plus, college students and children up to 12 years old, $12 for military and $25 for groups of 25 or more. Admittance is free for children under 2 years old.
A sold-out concert series connected to the All-Star Game that features name acts is scheduled to begin tonight at Embarcadero Marina Park South. The first night's program includes OneRepublic and NEEDTOBREATHE, beginning at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Tori Kelly and All Time Low will perform in a noon show, while headliner Gwen Stefani will take the stage with Eve at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transit System will provide extra service from Friday through Tuesday. Here are the details below:
Extra Transit Service Available:
• MTS Trolleys will be operating on a 15-minute schedule most of the day on all three lines from July 8-12.
• Frequency will increase on the Green Line and UC San Diego Blue Line before and after the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game on Sunday, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and All-Star Game on Tuesday.
• NCTD COASTER will add a southbound train departing Oceanside Transit Center on Sunday at noon, and on Monday and Tuesday at 1:56 p.m. The COASTER will also have special northbound trains leaving Santa Fe Depot one hour after All-Star Game activities end (leaving at midnight at the latest) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
• Commemorative Trolley Passes: MTS has a limited number of commemorative passes for the event available for purchase. Fans can purchase 1-Day ($6), 2-Day ($10) or 3-Day ($13) All-Star MTS Commemorative Passes at the Transit Store, 12th & Imperial Transit Center.
• Mobile Ticketing: MTS has activated its mobile ticketing option called mTicket, allowing fans to bypass ticket vending machines, and download and store Trolley tickets on their mobile phones. Search “MTS mTicket” at the App Store or Google Play.
• COASTER/Trolley Pass: Fans can save time by purchasing a COASTER/Trolley Pass ($12) online at GoNCTD.com or with the COASTER Mobile Tickets smartphone app. This pass includes round-trip service on the COASTER and all-day service on the Trolley. It is available for July 10-12 and can be purchased in advance.
Parking in downtown San Diego during special events can be challenging to find and expensive. MTS and NCTD have thousands of free parking spots along Trolley and COASTER stations. Some of the most convenient Park & Ride locations are:
• Qualcomm Stadium Trolley Station (Green Line): 5,000 free parking spots
• El Cajon Transit Center (Green/Orange Lines): 469 free parking spots
• Old Town Transit Center (COASTER and Green Line): 412 free parking spots
• Oceanside Transit Center (COASTER): 1,200 free parking spots
• Solana Beach Transit Center (COASTER): 325 free parking spots