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California-Carolina League All-Star Game Returning to Myrtle Beach June 22

As Yogi Berra might say, it’s déjà vu all over again for Myrtle Beach, thanks to the return of the California-Carolina League All-Star Game on June 22 at BB&T Coastal Field. ChopTalk readers who lamented missing the packed 2008 game will get a unique second chance and those lucky enough to be there in 2008 will surely be back for the second half of this unique All-Star doubleheader.

Winston-Salem’s loss is most definitely a gain for Pelicans (and Braves) fans. When the planned 2009 opening of the new ballpark in Winston-Salem was delayed until this year, All-Star officials looked for an alternate Carolina League host so the Dash wouldn’t have to open a new stadium and host the popular game in the same season.

“The 2008 game was a very impressive success for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the city of Myrtle Beach, and the Carolina League,” says Scott Brown, general manager of the Pelicans. “It set a facility attendance record at BB&T Coastal Field with 6,599 fans and it obviously laid the groundwork for the Carolina League to look to us for the 2010 installment.”

Set for one of the premier tourist destinations in the nation, this showcase event makes for an ideal getaway for ChopTalk readers to see the best “Baby Braves” and other future stars. The city of Myrtle Beach understands what it means to host such an event at BB&T Coastal Field and throughout the city. “Both the city and the Chamber are thrilled to have the opportunity to host the game again and we’ve rolled out the red carpet to make sure it’s as much or more of a success than two years ago,” says Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

That red carpet ride for fans includes an All-Star Gala the day before the game, which will include player introductions, food and drinks, and evening entertainment. In addition, there will be a full day’s worth of events on the 22nd, including autograph sessions, batting practice, and a pre-game Home Run Derby.

Even though BB&T Coastal Field is only in its 12th successful season, it’s constantly being updated, refined, and refreshed. Last season, Baseball America named BB&T Coastal Field the best ballpark in the Carolina League. It’s the only facility in the Carolina League with outfield bleachers, the only ballpark in America with a beach fronting the diamond, and it also boasts the largest video board in the Carolina League.

Not only was the 2008 game a major success off the field with a variety of activities, but it was extremely exciting on the field,too. Six hometown Pelicans were named to their league’s showcase squad and Myrtle Beach’s Ernesto Mejia took home the 2008 Home Run Derby crown. Later that night, the Carolina League broke an eighth inning 1-1 tie and took home a 3-1 victory--with Potomac’s Edgardo Baez claiming game MVP honors thanks to his tiebreaking home run in the eighth.

Two players who participated in that game are already making their mark in the majors. Most notably, San Francisco third baseman “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval, who hit 25 homers for the Giants last year, actually lost to Mejia in the Derby finals and took part in the game for the California League as a representative of the San Jose Giants.

On the Carolina League side, recent Sports Illustrated cover boy Matt Wieters, then of the Frederick Keys and now of the Baltimore Orioles, posted a 1-for-2 night with a RBI.

ChopTalk readers who head to the Myrtle Beach for a truly All-Star getaway will surely wonder when they’ll be seeing one or more Pelican players in a Braves uniform. Either way, this is an All-Star game that’s another guaranteed hit for Myrtle Beach.

Visit visitmyrtlebeach.com and myrtlebeachpelicans.com for more information.