SAN FRANCISCO -- "It's Jackie Robinson. It's Jackie Robinson," a group of boys echoed as they pressed against the glass encasing Robinson's old jersey. Then they caught sight of Mickey Mantle's name to the right. "It's Mickey Mantle. It's Mickey Mantle," they said moving down the line. And so it went. The National Baseball Hall of Fame brought a bit of Cooperstown to San Francisco for the All-Star Fan Fest, and there was such an impressive lineup of jerseys, gloves, cleats and bats that it was hard to know where to look first. Anywhere fans looked though they couldn't go wrong. Chief curator Ted Spencer has done this for 17 years, so he has a pretty good idea of what to bring.
Seven cases filled with artifacts from Nolan Ryan, Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and pretty much every baseball legend that comes to mind is on display. Of Course Willie Mays' baseball memories are out for all to see too. In fact, two cases are entirely devoted to Giants' artifacts. One of the Giants' cases is Hall of Fame specific, and the other is filled with memorabilia from some of the great moments in San Francisco history, like the jersey Jason Schmidt was wearing when he broke San Francisco's single-season strikeout record. The San Francisco history lesson continues on a large plaque mounted on the wall, starting with the opening of Candlestick Park in 1960 and ending with Barry Bonds' home run No. 714 to tie Ruth in 2006. Next to the history of San Francisco, there is another plaque on the wall that highlights the history of women in baseball. The plaque includes information on the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which the movie "A League of Their Own" was based on. "The exhibit and the movie has helped females understand that they have a piece of the game too," Spencer said. Spencer, who is originally from Boston, was already impressed with the San Francisco fans in just the first few hours of Fan Fest's opening. "We've seen a lot of cities and you really get a sense of the fans," Spencer said. "For early in the day, this is an amazing turnout."
The exhibit's popular baseball trivia game was partially responsible for the early morning crowd.The jeopardy-like game is played at the exhibit every hour. The curators created the categories and questions, and take turns playing Alex Trebek. They came up with some pretty good questions too, like how many pitchers collected at least 20 wins last season? The answer of zero stumped the contestants and most audience members. "If the die-hards stay here all day and come back tomorrow, they'll probably win," curator Erik Strohl joked. The Hall of Fame exhibit is located on the first floor of The Moscone West Convention Center, where Fan Fest is being held Friday through Monday.
Becky Regan is an associate reporter at MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.