The seventh annual All-Star Game Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet started at U.S. Airways Center, home of the NBA's Phoenix Suns, and took a modified route to the game amid the watchful gaze of fans who braved triple-digit heat to see the Boys of Midsummer. The route stretched one-third of a mile, from the corner of First St. and Jefferson St. down Fourth St. to the ballpark.
"I'm just very happy it's not as hot as it could be," starting American League outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "It's cool to be out there and have the fans kind of yelling at you, screaming at you, waving at you. They want to throw balls at you, but it's fun. It's part of the whole celebration, and I enjoy it."
From the moment they boarded the trucks to the time they pulled into Chase Field, players were expected to be out in the sun for only 4 1/2 to six minutes. Most All-Star parades are longer, but the abbreviated version was understandable. The truck flatbeds also included big umbrellas.
"How hot it is out there?" National League pitcher Ryan Vogelsong asked his Giants and NL teammate, Pablo Sandoval, before they hopped aboard their trucks.
"Man, it's a hundred degrees."
It was that, on the nose, outside. It could have been worse. It was 118 last week.
"The weather in Phoenix is a little bit warmer than it has been in other places, and we've adjusted for it," said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. "This has become part of the event for the players. They really enjoy being close to the fans, and we just had to make an adjustment to the environment."
MLB All-Star ambassador Luis Gonzalez, whose Game 7 hit gave the D-backs a world championship 10 years ago, served as grand marshal. Managers Ron Washington of the AL and Bruce Bochy of the NL rode in Camaros.
"We talk to people all the time about what we really want from an All-Star Week coming to a city," brosnan said. "Every single fan, whether they buy a ticket or not, can walk away with an All-Star experience. Without paying a nickel to anybody, if you want an All-Star experience, you can attend the red carpet and get about as close to an All-Star as you're ever going to get."
Perhaps the coolest new touch in the seventh edition of this parade was a perk for the passengers themselves. Players and their families were dropped off in buses at the U.S. Airways Center, where they went through a gift bag line, Oscars-style.
Shoe manufacturer Allen Edmonds offered every player one of three shoe styles and even included an All-Star Game shoe tree to go inside. Women received bags featuring cosmetics from Bobbi Brown, scarves from Nicole Miller and a wallet and gift card from Tory Burch.
"Every red carpet has to have a premium gift bag," Brosnan said. "As you see here, we have Allen Edmonds, who is our premium shoe partner, and we know the players are really going to enjoy getting a pair of Allen Edmonds to wear around, and the wives are going to enjoy some of the other premium product. It's a tradition of red carpets, and this is a red carpet, so it makes sense."
There was one other adjustment. With so many players added to this year's rosters, due to various reasons for unavailability, those club PR staffers who guided the players to their trucks were advised in advance that there will be "more doubling up this year than usual." There were more players this time than there were vehicles.
MLB's multi-year agreement maintains Chevrolet's exclusive category rights. In addition to its presenting sponsorship of the Red Carpet Show, Chevrolet will remain the presenting sponsor of three of baseball's most prestigious awards: the Roberto Clemente Award -- given annually to the MLB player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field -- as well as the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award and the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
"As two of America's most iconic brands, Major League Baseball and Chevrolet belong together, and we are proud to announce we'll be together for years to come," Brosnan said. "Chevrolet shares our commitment to giving back to the community, and their extensive support of youth baseball is to be commended."
"I can remember when 'Baseball, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet' was the jingle for Chevy advertisements in the 1970s," said Kevin Mayer, director of advertising and promotions for Chevrolet, "but Chevrolet and baseball have shared a place in American culture for most of the past 100 years. As such, partnering with MLB is a natural opportunity for Chevrolet to connect fans of America's pastime -- be it watching the World Series and MLB All-Star Game, or while visiting their local ball field."
On Tuesday, the fans were visiting their home team's stadium as the best players in baseball made their way down the streets. They lined the route behind barricades and had fun, as always.
"It's perfect. Ten feet away? That's awesome," said Rob Bjork, a Tigers fan originally from Detroit and now living in Phoenix. "I talked to Jose Reyes and said he needs to come to Detroit," He said, 'Yeah?'"
Just then, Jose Bautista's truck passed by. One after another, a tradition continued -- the parade itself and MLB's partnership with Chevrolet.
"It's kind of like Spring Training all over again," Hamilton said. "They get pretty close to us. As fans, they enjoy that -- especially the little kids and the dads. It's exciting for them and it's exciting for us to be able to do it."