A sea of blue Dodger jerseys and baseball fans swarmed the Santa Monica Pier on Friday, July 15 – and will continue to do so throughout the weekend.
MLB All-Star Week is officially underway, and Friday kicked off the first-ever beach event, called the Capital One All-Star Oceanfront, at the Santa Monica Pier and Beach.
This year’s All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 19 will mark the fourth time in franchise history that the Dodgers will host the Midsummer Classic, but the only other time they have done so at their current home was in 1980 (the 1949 game was in Brooklyn and the 1959 game – one of two played that season – was at the LA Memorial Coliseum).
All-Star activities are usually expensive, which is why MLB created the free Santa Monica event for Angelenos and baseball fans elsewhere who may not be able to afford to attend the game. .
The event features baseball and softball lessons for youth on the beach, baseball-themed sand sculpture contests, and batting and pitching cages for all ages to test their skills.
One of the features Jeremiah Yolkut, vice president of global events for MLB, said attendees should check out is the activities on the beach south of the pier.
“I think one of the best things is what happens on the beach itself; How often do you see people playing baseball in the sand? he said on Friday. “We have an initiative called Play Ball, which involves more young people in the game, and to be able to activate and play ball on the beach with the ocean as a backdrop, it doesn’t get better than that.”
Along with that, each morning of the event, the public can partake in free yoga classes on the beach before the festivities get started in earnest.
MLB has also partnered with Heal the Bay, a local nonprofit dedicated to keeping Greater Los Angeles’ coastal waters clean and safe, to hold a beach cleanup on Saturday.
“(MLB) wanted to stay true to the community, to leave the place better than what we found,” Yolkut said, “so we’re trying to do everything we can to really be in the market and present.”
On Friday, the pier was packed with hundreds of fans and families, most representing their favorite teams in one way or another, including donning their jerseys. People lined up to buy official All-Star merchandise and get baseball cards and pins.
Allen Estrada of El Segundo went for rare pins and enjoying what the event had to offer.
“I wanted to mingle with other baseball fans and check out all the pits,” Estrada said. “There was yoga on the beach in the morning and there’s a baseball diamond in the sand with the corrugated roof of Dodger Stadium, which is so cool.”
MLB also held various photo ops for fans, including massive gloves, helmets and baseballs for people to pose with.
Virginia Jauregui and her husband, Gilbert Jauregui, attended the opening day of the event wearing rival jerseys.
Virginia Jauregui wore her Angels jersey and Gilbert Jauregui wore his Dodgers jersey.
The El Monte couple attended the event because they are huge baseball fans and it made them more excited for the All-Star Game.
Both teams also resumed the Freeway Series on Friday and will play again on Saturday.
“We played a few games,” said Virginia Jauregui, “we got bowling and we liked the atmosphere.”
Baseball activities weren’t the only forms of entertainment, however: the main stage had live music that attendees could hear throughout the event.
Children and baseball fans could also have their faces painted or caricatured.
Local food vendors and different drink stations were available for people to grab some food and something to drink.
“Santa Monica is thrilled to host Major League Baseball’s first-ever All-Star Oceanfront event,” Assistant City Manager Anuj Gupta said. “We urge everyone who attends to bike, bus, train or walk to Santa Monica as we expect a busy summer weekend to celebrate MLB All-Star Week.”
MLB has taken over the pier to provide locals and tourists with an event meant to represent Southern California – complete with beach views and all baseball.
“Come enjoy the two best things of summer,” said Jim Harris, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation. “Major League Baseball and the Santa Monica Pier.”