MINNEAPOLIS -- The long wait is over.
The intricate planning that took more than a year from both the Twins and Major League Baseball is complete: All-Star Week is here in Minnesota.
It's the return of Major League Baseball's iconic event to the Twin Cities for the first time since 1985. But it looks nothing like it did nearly 30 years ago as it's much more than just Tuesday night's All-Star Game at Target Field.
The five-day T-Mobile All-Star FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center has already begun, and the events at Target Field begin Sunday starting with the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.
Then there's the Gatorade Workout Day featuring the Gillette Home Run Derby on Monday, before all of the baseball world shifts its eyes to beautiful Target Field for the 85th Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.
"The planning stage is over," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "We're in executing mode. So it's a stressful time but an exciting time. Many people on our staff will never have the chance to work an All-Star Game again so you approach it with tremendous diligence and the understanding it's an honor for our organization."
All-Star Week begins in earnest with the start of FanFest, which is the world's largest interactive baseball fan event and is set to feature more than 400,000 square feet of baseball-related attractions. More than a dozen Hall of Famers and several Twins legends will also make appearances there throughout the week to interact with fans.
Hall of Famers to participate include T-Mobile All-Star FanFest spokespeople and Twins legends Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew and Paul Molitor, as well as Orlando Cepeda, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers, Fergie Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield.
"It's awesome," Blyleven said. "When I was an All-Star in the '70s and '80s, you just kind of showed up. But now they have a chance to interact with the fans. They're going to be here signing. It's a lot of fun. They're going to be giving back."
Target Field gets its first taste of All-Star Week with the 16th annual Futures Game on Sunday. It pits the U.S. team managed by former Twins skipper Tom Kelly against the World team managed by Blyleven, a native of the Netherlands.
Each team has 25 of baseball's top prospects, many of whom go on to shine as big leaguers. More than 100 players have participated in both the Futures Game and the All-Star Game, including 37 All-Stars from last season who first participated in the showcase game as prospects.
"It's become a big event," Molitor said. "I'm sure people who come out and watch, there's a lot of names they won't know. But eventually they'll say, 'Hey, I saw that guy a few years ago in the Futures Game.' It's a great opportunity for those kids to play."
There will be plenty of recognizable names in the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game that takes place after the Futures Game on Sunday night.
Local sports stars such as the Vikings' Adrian Peterson, the Wild's Zach Parise and the Lynx's Maya Moore will participate in the event as well as other notable athletes such as Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch and NFL star receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Celebrities include actors Rob Riggle, Dylan O'Brien and Charlie McDermott; TV personalities Andrew Zimmern, Andy Cohen and James Denton and singer-songwriter Nelly. MTV2 "Off the Bat" co-hosts Sway, Fat Joe, Chris Distefano and Melanie Iglesias are also scheduled to play. Baseball legends set to participate include Jack Morris, Jim Thome, Rickey Henderson, Dwight Gooden, Fred Lynn, Mike Piazza, John Smoltz, Dawson, Smith and Fingers.
"I love being around baseball. It's a great couple of days, and I'm excited," Finch said. "I'm honored to represent softball at the All-Star Game."
The first Major League event comes Monday with the Home Run Derby at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN. Several of the game's top sluggers are set to participate in the event, which has a new format this year, featuring a maximum of seven outs per round and bracketed play after the first round.
Jose Bautista, Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Dozier, Josh Donaldson and Adam Jones are set to represent the AL, while Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig, Justin Morneau, and Todd Frazier will represent the NL.
Target Field's dimensions will be tested, as the nine right-handed hitters are expected to pepper the third deck of the ballpark in left field, while Morneau will be taking aim at Target Plaza in right field in his much anticipated return to Minnesota.
"Target Field, we know that in general terms it plays bigger than most parks," Molitor said. "But I think that night it'll get pretty small."
Twins fans will also get the chance to see a hometown player participate in Dozier, while also welcoming back Morneau, who played 11 years in Minnesota where he was a four-time All-Star, an AL MVP and a Home Run Derby champion.
"I know it means a lot to him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I know he talked about tipping his hat to the fans. Now he has a chance to play in front of the fans so I'm happy for him."
It all leads up to the biggest event of the week -- the All-Star Game, which begins Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT. The Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
After fans selected Anthony Rizzo and Chris Sale as the final members of the All-Star team, via Final Vote, the final phase of All-Star Game voting will again allow fans to help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Tuesday's game will feature 66 of the game's best players and will cast a spotlight on Target Field, which is widely regarded as one of baseball's most visually stunning ballparks.
"There are few events in America that are more significant in size and scope and magnitude than the All-Star Game," St. Peter said. "It's obviously a crown jewel for Major League Baseball and has a lot of tradition. It's truly a celebration of the game and with that comes with the best players but also a large magnitude of events well beyond what it was in 1985."