The cream of the crop in the South Atlantic League (SAL) are headed to Appalachian Power Park in Charleston next week. The annual SAL All-Star game is set to take place in the state capital on Tuesday, June 18, the second time the game has been held at Power Park.
The last time Power Park hosted the midsummer classic was in 2009. Charleston previously welcomed the SAL All-Stars in 1989 to Watt Powell Park.
Involved in the preparation of the exciting event is David Kahn, the Power's Broadcast and Media Relations Manager, who understands the event's importance to the community.
"It has been an interesting challenge. It's a unique experience for us to be celebrating the park's 15th anniversary and hosting the league's All-Star game. The game is just one night, but the overall experience is going to be over three days and we feel the community is going to enjoy the different events that will be taking place."
Four West Virginia players were tabbed with All-Star selections, as starting catcher Jake Anchin and right-handed pitchers Dayeison Arias, Clay Chandler and Bryan Pall all earned slots on the elite squad.
After 14 seasons as the low single-A farm club for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, this is the first season of the Power working with the Seattle Mariners. Kahn made it clear the parent club understands the importance of their farm club hosting an All-Star game.
"We expect to have some of Seattle's management to be in attendance and they have given us plenty of support," Kahn said. Tickets for the All-Star game, presented by Segra, are available online at www.wvpower.com for only $11. Gates open at 5 p.m., with a Home Run Derby beginning at 6 p.m. and first pitch of the main event set for 7:35 p.m. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive an All-Star branded tumbler, courtesy of Segra.
The Northern Division roster will be led by West Virginia manager David Berg and Power coaches Eric Farris and Alon Leichman will be assisting Berg, as well as Power trainer Josh Gallagher.
This is the type of event that doesn't just happen, and Kahn explained to me the amount of planning that has taken place. "There are a lot of small things that we have had to take care of, that add up to big things for the event.
"You have to make sure everything is executed correctly, or the fan's experience will not be as good. We have been on a good path since the game was announced and we will be ready," he said.
The Delmarva Shorebirds, which is the Baltimore Orioles low-Single A farm club, has the most players selected with eight Shorebirds headlining the Northern Division's roster.
The All-Star game itself is just the pinnacle of the events planned by the Power organization. There is so much more going on that will make the event a unique experience for every baseball fan.
"On Monday, kicking everything off will be a Fanfest at Haddad Park that will feature an autograph session starting at 5:30 p.m. and is free, a concert featuring the Davidsson Brothers later that evening," Kahn said. "Then on Tuesday there will be a luncheon featuring the players at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center prior to the activities at Power Park."
The Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau has been very involved in the planning of the All-Star game and more information can be found at the CVB's website www.charlestonwv.com.
The last time Power Park hosted the All-Star Game, I was under the weather and missed the game; but not this time - and I can't wait to see the best of the best of the South Atlantic League all together on one night. It's going to be fun.
Christian Deiss, of Scott Depot, is a freshman at Hurricane High School.