"I think they should call it the Torii Hunter rule, because I ended that game in a tie," Hunter said. "Now we play for what is it, home-field advantage in the World Series? Yeah, I had something to do with that."
Hunter, a three-time All-Star and nine-time Rawlings Gold Glove winner, wasn't as bold when the man sitting next to him, Hall of Famer Rod Carew, spoke of his All-Star Game experiences. All 18 of them.
"I haven't even played in 18 professional seasons," Hunter said.
Hunter and Carew are ambassadors for this year's MLB All-Star FanFest, "our version of a baseball Disneyland," in the words of MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy. In its first visit to Anaheim, the five-day event will take over 450,000 square feet of space at the Anaheim Convention center in celebration of the 81st Midsummer Classic.
Carew, who spent the last seven of his 19 big league seasons with the Angels, remembered his first All-Star Game as a 21-year-old rookie in 1967. That was the first All-Star Game hosted at Angel Stadium, then named Anaheim Stadium, and Carew shared a field with Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks and Roberto Clemente. Carew's American League lost, though, 2-1 in 15 innings.
"Some of the great players I admired as a youngster growing up," Carew said. "It was a tremendous day for us, because it meant that even though we didn't win the game, we put on a great show."
Hunter, a career .275 hitter with 236 home runs, has been named to two of the past three AL All-Star teams, including last season's at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. There, Hunter said, he heard the ovation the crowd gave their hometown favorite, Albert Pujols.
"That's the kind of the warm welcome you really want when your hosting the All-Star Game, and I want to have the opportunity and potential to go out there and represent the team," Hunter said. "It's something I'd never forget, my kids would never forget, and the fans here -- the Angels fans -- would never forget."
Hunter missed out on a starting spot in the AL outfield last season, finishing fourth in the fan voting behind Boston's Jason Bay. He made it onto the team on the ballot of players, coaches and managers, but did not play because of injury.
There will be no campaigning for Hunter, though he said he wants his talent to do the lobbying. But he did say he hoped to see four or five Angels on the roster, including himself.
"Every year I want the fans to stuff the ballot box," Hunter said.