MINNEAPOLIS -- A star-studded game deserves a star-studded intro, and as usual, Major League Baseball didn't disappoint as it rung in the 2014 All-Star Game with tasteful tributes Tuesday evening at Target Field.
Star power was out in full force during a 30-minute pregame ceremony that included a performance by Tony Award-winning singer Idina Menzel, a trip around the warning track by the famed Budweiser Clydesdales and a flyover by a well-known Air Force crew.
The pageantry began with the clippity-clop of the white-hoofed Budweiser Clydesdales, guided by men wearing crisp green pants sitting next to black-spotted dalmatians. The All-Star teams were then ushered onto the field to line up for introductions: The visiting National League team first, followed by the host American Leaguers.
The loudest ovations were directed, of course, to the Twins All-Stars -- Kurt Suzuki and Glen Perkins -- in addition to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was named to manager John Farrell's coaching staff. Former Twins first baseman and fan favorite Justin Morneau, who now plays for the Rockies, was also given a hearty welcome home.
The retiring Derek Jeter also received a longer ovation than most, a fitting tribute given this will be the Yankees shortstop's final All-Star Game.
As the 30 winners of the "Target presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers" program lined up in front of a stage holding a small orchestra, Menzel stepped up to the microphone to perform Bob Dylan's classic song "Forever Young."
Two soldiers were given special recognition and a rousing ovation: Canadian Master Corporal Francois Robichaud from Quebec City, and Staff Sergeant Josemy Moralez Marcano from Maplewood, Minn.
The Minnesota Orchestra performed the Canadian national anthem, which was followed by a second appearance by Menzel -- this time to sing the U.S. national anthem.
As a baseball fan and the sister of a second-grade teacher, Menzel was thrilled to be a part of it all.
"I'm honored to be invited and asked, to just be here," she said. "I'm here the minute they asked. It's something I've always wanted to do."
The always crowd-pleasing flyover was performed by the world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which was coordinated precisely as Menzel hit the final notes of the anthem.
The flying team, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, featured six F-16 Fighting Falcons in its signature "Delta" formation over Target Field.
"The MLB All-Star Game is one of the most patriotic events in America, and we're honored to be a part of it," said Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, the Thunderbirds' commander and lead pilot. "When we fly over that stadium, baseball fans will get a reminder of the precision and teamwork their U.S. Air Force embodies every day."
The Thunderbirds team is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted people serving in about 30 Air Force job specialties.
The six demo pilots are: Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, Maj. Joshua Boudreax, Maj. Caroline Jensen, Maj. Curtis Dougherty, Maj. Blaine Jensen and Maj. Jason Curtis.
Following video of great moments from All-Star Games past played on the giant scoreboard in center field, Hall of Famer and Twins legend Rod Carew made his way to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was accompanied by three members of local Little League organizations, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Little League.
The group included Bella Hutson from CAA Chanhassen Little League, and Nick Jorgenson and Sydney Kehr from Coon Rapids National Little League. Kiana Knolland, the 2013-2014 National Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, delivered the game ball to the mound.
Carew, named to 18 All-Star Games during his legendary career, threw a pitch right to the plate, where it was caught by Gardenhire. Carew was right on target, at sparkling Target Field. A perfect beginning to a fantastic night.