"I think this is the ultimate All-Star experience," Ripken said at the Pepsi Max Field of Dreams area at MLB All-Star FanFest. "If you're looking at it from my side as a player, look at the group of guys you get to hang out with. It's an All-Star vote, and in many ways it's not just half a year or a couple of years, it's your full career that people are voting on. I think the winners should be out of their minds, that they get a chance to compete and play, because this is a special group of guys."
The news conference was emceed by comedian and baseball fan Jay Mohr. Ripken announced the AL lineup, and Schmidt announced the NL version.
"Leading off for the AL, Billy Butler," Ripken deadpanned, as a crowd of fans assembled.
Yes, everyone in Kansas City is talking about the Royals' first baseman, now that he has become legend for not being in the State Farm Home Run Derby.
Then Ripken continued with a straight face. His teammates will include catcher Yogi Berra, first baseman Frank Thomas, second baseman Roberto Alomar, third baseman Brooks Robinson ("my childhood hero," Ripken said), outfielders Ken Griffey Jr., Reggie Jackson and Rickey Henderson, starting pitcher Jim Palmer and reliever Dennis Eckersley.
Schmidt said his teammates will include catcher Johnny Bench, first baseman Fred McGriff, second baseman Ryne Sandberg, shortstop Ozzie Smith, outfielders Tony Gwynn, Andre Dawson and Stan Musial, starting pitcher Randy Johnson and reliever Trevor Hoffman.
Schmidt chuckled when he looked over his lineup and thought about the possibilities.
"Fred McGriff may be the only non-Hall of Famer, and he's sort of had a Hall of Fame career. Trevor Hoffman, Hall of Fame career, he's just not eligible yet. So we have a whole team full of Hall of Famers, so I don't know why we won't beat the heck out of the American League."
Trying to summon his best anti-AL passion that he summoned for every All-Star Game when he represented the Phillies, Schmidt said of Ripken and the AL lineup: "They stink."
Once the fans have determined whether Washington or Rochester gets the game, Pepsi Max will plan the game and a whole community will get a thrill.
"Pepsi Max is looking forward to creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Johnny Perotti and Stephen Katchmark," said Heidi Sandreuter, senior director for Pepsi Sports Marketing. "It's not every day that you get to take the field with some of the greatest players in the game, and we are excited to find out which hometown will be hosting the Pepsi Max MLB Field of Dreams Game."
The first staging of the Pepsi Max Field of Dreams game was this past May in Columbus, Ohio. The format was changed to include two winners this time.
"It's exciting to be part of this because it connects directly with the fans," Ripken said. "The guys on the AL and NL rosters are some of the greatest players of all-time, and it's truly an honor to be chosen by the fans."