St. Louis looks forward to All-Star Game
'Wizard,' dignitaries on hand for unveiling of logo
ST. LOUIS -- Ozzie Smith is no stranger to the Midsummer Classic, having participated in 11 All-Star Games.
In attendance at the unveiling of the 2009 All-Star logo on Tuesday at Busch Stadium, the "Wizard" promised next year's game will be just as exciting as this year's affair, but he won't be showing off his old trademark.
"Not from me, my back-flipping days are over," Smith said. "Zero percent chance."
Following the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium -- an instant classic that went right down to the wire -- will be tough to top, Smith said. But he confidently predicted St. Louis will do baseball fans everywhere proud.
The Hall of Fame shortstop did say that he wished there was more urgency from the players to participate in the game.
"You know the game's changed when the Commissioner [Bud Selig] has to come up with an incentive for guys to want to play the game," Smith said. "It certainly has changed and I think once the game starts, guys get hyped and excited about it. We're just hoping that the excitement will be back there in the National League to turn it around."
It has been 12 years since the National League won an All-Star Game. Smith played in the last All-Star Game the NL won, and was a victor in the game seven times.
Though the last All-Star Game at Busch Stadium was long before his time, Smith is excited to see the event come back to St. Louis, saying it was long overdue.
"We've got a new city now and it's something to show off," Smith said. "We're looking forward to it."
Hosting the news conference, Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon spoke jovially of the last All-Star Game at Busch Stadium.
As the fans and players roasted in the summer heat that is commonplace in St. Louis, the NL All-Stars edged out the American League in a 2-1 victory in 1966. Forty-three years later, one of baseball's crown jewels returns to the oldest team West of the Mississippi.
Participating in Tuesday's All-Star press conference, Shannon could hardly hold back his excitement for the Cardinals' opportunity to host their first Midsummer Classic since 1966.
"This is a very exciting time for Cardinals baseball and the city of St. Louis," Shannon said.
Aside from current and former members of the Cardinals, several representatives of St. Louis attended to address the benefits the city will receive. With more than 100,000 people expected to visit St. Louis for next year's All-Star Game, which will generate a great deal of revenue, the city has a lot of preparation to do over the next year.
"It will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy and tens of thousands of people to St. Louis," St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said. "I know Major League Baseball is going to be very happy about this."
Along with St. Louis county executive Charlie Dooley, Slay said it will be a great opportunity to showcase the city of St. Louis and went so far to make a bold pledge.
"I'm here to guarantee you that this is going to be the absolute best All-Star Game that you've ever seen," Slay said. "When the fans come here, they are going to see a great city and a great region. I know it's still a year out, but we're looking forward to it and I think it's going to be great."
Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.