Many refer to it as the "Midsummer Classic." To me, growing up in the late 1970s and early '80s, it was the highlight of my summer.
The Major League Baseball All-Star game was the one television event for which I was willing to forfeit the neighborhood flashlight tag game to see. For me, it was bigger than the Super Bowl for one simple reason: There was always at least one of my favorite hometown players who I couldn't wait to see step to the plate or take the mound.
This year's Classic on Tuesday in Kansas City is guaranteed to draw the interest of every baseball fan in America because, fair or not, every single team is represented. So even for those fans in San Diego, who have watched their Padres' season pretty much come to an end already, there's still an air of excitement as they wait to hear one of their players announced.
The game can be an opportunity for entire families to gather in front of the television on a hot summer night and enjoy America's game for what it is -- a showcase of the very best the sport has to offer.
Unlike the NFL, where players look for excuses to miss the Pro Bowl or play half-heartedly even if they show up, baseball players can't wait to take part in this game. This is the one professional sports league where the best players gather and play the game truest to the regular-season battles. On Tuesday night, players will swing just as hard as they will two nights later when their teams resume their regular season.
The Classic can be a chance for a young child -- sports fan or not, baseball player or not -- to be introduced to the wonderful game of baseball. Or, following recent steroid scandals, it can be an opportunity for adults to reconcile with America's game.
The sport of baseball is perhaps more family-friendly than any other. If you've ever tried to explain football to a non-fan, and then done the same with baseball, you know what I mean. And in most cities, you can take a family of four to a baseball game for the same price one person pays to see the same city's NFL team at the stadium.
Baseball is also easily mimicked in the backyard while the excitement from watching the game is still fresh. I often wonder if youth baseball participation numbers would be greater if leagues had sign-ups the day after the All-Star game, rather than shortly after the Super Bowl.
Not everyone will end up being a baseball fan just by tuning in to the All-Star game, but everyone deserves a chance.
Reach Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @JonBuzby.