NEW YORK -- Trading in his Mets uniform for a mayoral suit and tie -- not to mention a bit of civic pride -- David Wright on Wednesday joined New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in kicking off this year's All-Star Game festivities at City Hall. Less than three months remain before the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field.
"Baseball is in the blood of New Yorkers," said Wright, a six-time All-Star. "If I had a vote, I'd have the All-Star Game here every year."
Instead, he will settle for playing a heavy role in the publicity of this one. Wright was named Major League Baseball's official spokesman for the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, to be held at the Jacob K. Javits Center from July 12-16, while former Mets Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco and Mookie Wilson were anointed All-Star ambassadors.
As FanFest's official spokesperson, Wright will help to generate public awareness for the event and make appearances in support of it. He will receive help from Alfonzo, Franco and Wilson, who will take part in an array of All-Star events leading up to and throughout MLB All-Star Week.
"New York knows how to throw a party," Franco said. "This is going to be something special."
The All-Star Game -- set for July 16 -- will return to Queens this summer for the first time since 1964, when the Mets hosted it during Shea Stadium's inaugural season. New York City has played host to the Midsummer Classic eight times, most recently at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008.
Bloomberg estimated that this year's schedule of events, including FanFest, the All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet, the Sirius XM Futures Game and State Farm Home Run Derby, will make a $191.5-million impact on New York City's economy, thanks to more than 176,000 visitors and a worldwide multimedia audience in excess of 30 million. The mayor called it an "economic grand slam."
"You get people coming here, they buy things in our stores, they eat things in our restaurants, they stay in our hotels," Bloomberg said. "But what really happens is they go back home and they tell people that New York is fun, New York is safe, New York is affordable, New York is friendly. It's that kind of free publicity we can't get anyplace else."
The Mets should receive similar publicity for Citi Field, their jewel of a ballpark that opened in 2009 after more than a decade of planning and construction. Owner Fred Wilpon recently called the All-Star Game a chance to "show off the ballpark," which was constructed to resemble old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Players and critics around baseball consider it one of the best in the game.
That is why, sitting at City Hall on Wednesday in his gray suit and tie, Wright said he would "gladly trade all six" of his All-Star appearances for a chance to play this summer at Citi Field. Wright made last year's National League roster for the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but he lost the chance to start at third base on a late turn in fan voting.
This year, Franco joked, "I've already voted for David 15 times."
As with any big event, there will be concerns, particularly in the wake of this month's marathon bombings in Boston. Bloomberg assured that his city will work around the clock to make things safe, pointing to what he called "the best police department in the world."
"We know what to do," Bloomberg said. "I can't guarantee with 1,000-percent accuracy that everybody's going to be safe -- we all know that we live in a complex, dangerous, difficult world. But if I were going to go to a major event, I would rather go to a major event in New York City knowing that we have the NYPD providing security here."
Calling New York City the "sports capital of America," Bloomberg noted that he personally attends many baseball games in Queens and the Bronx, enjoying popcorn and beer as he watches. The Mets indulged his hobby by presenting him with a cream-colored Mets jersey, embroidered with the mayor's name and the No. 13.
"I know what happens when great things happen here in the city," said Wilson, one of the heroes of the 1986 World Series. "The city has never short-changed anyone anything they've ever done here. I'm not a native New Yorker, but I feel as if I am. I've been here my whole adult life and I've always enjoyed it, and I can't wait to get this All-Star Game started. It's a great, great event."