SOUTHPOINTE – The Frontier League is bringing its marquee event back to Washington this summer.
Frontier League and Washington Wild Things officials announced Thursday morning that Consol Energy Park will be the site of the 2013 all-star baseball game July 17. The announcement was made during a news conference at Consol Energy’s headquarters.
Washington is hosting the all-star game for the second time. The Wild Things, who first played host in 2005, beat out two other cities for hosting rights to this year’s game, which features players from the 14-team independent league that will begin its 21st season in May.
“This is our feature event, the mainstay of the league,” Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee said. “When I joined the league as commissioner back in 1994 and we discussed the all-star game, it was like, ‘OK, who drew the short straw and has to host it?’ Now, it’s a tough battle for a team to get the game.”
Wild Things owner Stu Williams said this is a project his organization has been working for a long time.
“The process started more than a year ago. Basically, as soon as last year’s all-star game was over the league has to decide where the next one is going to be held. If you want to host, then you do your lobbying and put together a program. A bonus that we have is, everyone in the Frontier League knows that when Washington does something it’s done first class.”
In 2005, the Wild Things followed the plan of Major League Baseball and made the all-star game part of a multi-day event that included a country music concert at the ballpark. The plans are again elaborate.
All-star week begins July 15 with a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel in the Meadow Lands. Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster and former pitcher Steve Blass will be the keynote speaker. On July 16, there will be a home run derby followed by the all-stars playing a softball game against the Akron Racers of the National Pro Fastpitch women’s professional league. The Racers also will be conducting a clinic for youth softball players.
“We want this to be the standard for all future Frontier League All-Star games to be measured,” Williams said. “We want people to say, ‘Was it as good as Washington? No.’”
In 2005, the Wild Things’ Mike Arbinger won the pregame home run derby, then was named Most Valuable Player in the all-star game after helping to the East Division to a 5-4 victory. One player from that game, River City’s Joe Thatcher, went on to make his debut in the major leagues less than two years later. Thatcher has appeared in 237 games as a left-handed relief pitcher with the San Diego Padres.
“The talent level in the league now is better than in 2005,” Lee said. “We’ll be trying to showcase everything we can. The difference in Washington from 2005 is like night and day with the ballpark having turf and the development around there.”