It's been 11 months since the Hillsboro Hops announced they'd be hosting the 2017 Pioneer League vs Northwest League All-Star Game, and with the game and the festivities surrounding it just days away, Hops President and General Manager K.L. Wombacher is excited for the culmination of nearly a year's worth of work.
"For us it's a signature event," said Wombacher, "to show what we're capable of as a baseball community and city."
According to Wombacher, it'll be one of the premier minor league experiences in the country.
"We'll have executives from 15 other minor league affiliates here that will get to see the energy from our fans," he said. "Hopefully they'll recognize what our city and franchise are all about."
The three-day event kicks off Sunday, July 30, with Fan Fest presented by Intel. Fan Fest will run from noon to 6 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium and consist of family-friendly activities including six inflatables for kids, speed pitch stations, hitting stations and a 60-foot outdoor obstacle course courtesy of Play.Fit.Fun. But that's not it. There will also be a Virtual Reality MLB Experience courtesy of Intel, stage entertainment, lawn games and an official attempt at the World's Largest Game of Catch.
"The record attempt will start at 1 p.m. and we're hoping for 2,000 people for that," said Wombacher. "The first 1,000 pairs of people will receive a commemorative ball with both the World Record and All-Star Game logos on them."
Parking and admission for Fan Fest will be free, while food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Monday night's Party at the Park will offer a slightly more adult experience, with three separate bands performing and craft beer and wine tastings.
"It'll be a craft beer and music festival atmosphere," Wombacher said, "geared a bit more toward adults."
The all-stars will be announced between musical acts, with one side being introduced between the first and second performances and the opposite squad announced between the second and third, something that "will be cool," said Wombacher.
Gates will open at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, with two hours of batting practice and autograph sessions prior to the Home Run Derby scheduled to start at 5 p.m., hosted by ESPN personality Neil Everett. The derby will consist of four players from each team and the winner will act as the tiebreaker in case of a 10-inning tie in the game itself. The game starts at 7:07 p.m. and will be the cherry atop three days' worth of exciting activities.
"This is the marquee event in Single-A baseball," said Wombacher. "This is a chance for people to see pretty substantial prospects representing 14 MLB franchises. It's a great opportunity for the city and community, but also a chance for the baseball community to embrace this game."
Tickets for the game are available at hillsborohops.com, or by calling the Hops front office at 503-640-0887. Game tickets allow visitors entry to the Home Run Derby as well.