Fred Lynn is no stranger to the media. He spent the bulk of his Major League career in large markets like Boston and California, patrolling center field for the Red Sox and Angels, respectively. This time, however, the nine-time All Star is taking to the media for a different reason—to promote an excellent cause.
As Major League players from across the game roll into Phoenix, Arizona to participate in the 82nd installment of the mid-summer classic, hoards of media personnel have followed suit, taking their cameras and microphones to the desert to catch up with the game's elite. Lynn, on the other hand, is just making a pit-stop at the All-Star Game, where he made quite the name for himself, to help spread the word about the SUBWAY Baseball DeSIGNS Tour.
On Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to ask Fred Lynn a couple of questions surrounding not only his involvement with the tour, but the nostalgia that returns from making an appearance at the All-Star Game on media day, and his other involvements in the festivities.
"On the tour, we're taking baseballs that were artistically created by children and having them signed by different people. I signed one today, and we've also had the Williams sisters, celebrities and a number of various athletes sign them," said Lynn. In fact, the tour boasts a number of big name signers, including baseball's own Jose Reyes and Ryan Howard, as well as recognizable names like Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Blake Griffin, Michael Phelps, Drew Brees and the cast of Glee.
Once the baseballs are signed, they are auctioned off, and whatever money is paid for them is donated to the Little League Urban Initiative Program, which supports the growth of Little League baseball in the United States. When asked about how important it is to support the Little Leagues, Lynn emphatically stated that supporting the Little Leagues was much more than developing future baseball players.
"Getting kids active is the main priority," said Lynn. "When I was a kid, we were outside all of the time running around. One of the things that we really want to encourage is helping kids to stay active, so that healthy eating habits and those sorts of things follow."
The tour provides a unique experience to not only showcase the Little League talent growing here in the United States, but for celebrities and athletes alike to show their support for the game of baseball. The tour, which started in Los Angeles last month, is scheduled to stop in Phoenix Arizona for two days (Monday and Tuesday,) before heading to New York City for a couple of days in August. Everything is wrapped up at the end of August, when the tour fittingly ends in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the Little League World Series.
However, while the reporter in me wanted to catch up with Fred Lynn about his tour, the baseball fan in me was dying to ask him a couple of questions about the All-Star Game. How could I pass up the opportunity to ask an All-Star Game legend a couple of questions while he was live in Phoenix?
The last couple of seasons have certainly provided us with memorable All Star Games. Who could forget Adam Jones' go-ahead triple in the 2009 game, or the National League's first victory since 1996 in 2010? While those were certainly memorable, there are few bigger names than "Fred Lynn" when it comes to All Star Game heroics, after appearing in nine straight All Star Games from 1975-83.
When asked what his most memorable experience was from those nine games, his answer was quick, and I knew it before it even left his tongue: "Well, it had to be the 1983 game." Indeed it did. On the 50th Anniversary of the All Star Game, live from Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, Lynn put the finishing touches on the rout of the National League, launching a grand slam home run in the third inning.
To date, Lynn is the only man to have ever hit a grand slam in the All Star Game, a feat that only few have even been given the opportunity to do. When asked if he thought it would ever be done again, he laughed and said, "Well, it will be done again," but he didn't sound so sure, and with good reason. With 81 All Star Games in the books before Tuesday's showdown, he's the only man to ever accomplish the feat.
"I thought that Mark McGwire was going to do it when the All Star Game was in Colorado. (1998). I mean, then, anything you hit in the air left the park. I thought that if anyone was going to do it, it would be him in Colorado," Lynn said, "But it didn't happen." While there were three home runs hit, by Alex Rodriguez, Roberto Alomar and Barry Bonds, none of them were grand slams, and while McGwire had his chance, he could do nothing with it.
Lynn has a theory as to why hitting a grand slam in the All Star Game is such a challenge, however. "If it happens, I think it will happen against a starting pitcher," said the former outfielder. "A lot of times (in the All Star Game), when you get the bases loaded, the manager brings in a stopper. This isn't just any guy, but a stopper, and they don't give those up. If it does happen, I think it will be off of a starter, like mine was."
With Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver set to square off at Chase Field Tuesday night to begin the game, it seems like a grand slam is a long shot, but anything can happen. On the other hand, the Celebrity Softball Game is a thing of the past, and Lynn was once again an anchor for the legends.
"The Celebrity Softball Game is a lot of fun," said Lynn. "When I put on the uniform, I do crazy things," he said with a laugh." What is that crazy thing, you ask? "I dove for a ball." I could hear the excitement in his voice as he said that, and I couldn't help but laugh on the other end of the phone. Without having seen the game, which was not scheduled to air until Monday evening, I could picture Lynn, surrounded by a number of baseball legends and celebrities, diving for a ball.
"I don't heal as quickly as I used to," said Lynn with a laugh. "I woke up this morning around 6 am, about 10 hours after the game, and I could barely move my shoulder around to lift my arm over my head. I had my wife yelling at me and everything!"
Luckily for us, the tour is in no serious jeopardy, as Lynn will not require a stint on the Disabled List. According to the four-time Gold Glove winner, the game, injury and all, was well worth it. "It's nice to have some of the celebrities out there on our field, and teach them a little about what we know."
So to sum things up, if there is something that Fred Lynn hasn't accomplished in terms of the All Star Game, I can't imagine what it would be. He's hit a home run, which of course, was the only grand slam in the history of the All Star Game. He has won the game, taken home MVP honors, and appeared nine times. Now a 13-year veteran of the Celebrity Softball Game, he's even homered in that!
Now, he's on a mission to help the kids of our country by supporting the Little Leagues, a fact that thrown in with all of the baseball success he's had, really puts what type of man Fred Lynn is into perspective.
If you're interesting in learning more about the SUBWAY Baseball DeSIGNS Tour, please, visit the official website, here.