STATE COLLEGE - Several hundred fans were lined up for the first autograph session just after the gates of Medlar Field at Lubrano Park opened for Tuesday's New York Penn League All-Star Game.
And they got what they came for, even though it meant standing through a torrential downpour and lightning storm that killed power to the ballpark for about an hour, sending the American League batting practice indoors, but otherwise having no noticeable impact on the festivities.
The storm moved off over Mount Nittany before the National League players sat down to meet the fans, which also was an opportunity for them to talk about the thrill of being here - something that was more special for both the home team Spikes, but also for the visiting Williamsport Crosscutters, who between them represented the state's two major league teams.
Phillies-affiliate Williamsport, which was the Pirates' short-season Class affiliate before the Bucs moved the designation to State College, has worked with the host club through the past three seasons to build somewhat of a rivalry through the Sawbuck Series, but that was put aside for the all-star game, in which the two clubs have players on the same team.
"Not really when we're here together," State College pitcher Zach Foster said before the game. "It might be a different story in the regular season."
"I don't think it will be too big a factor," agreed Williamsport infielder Jeremy Barnes. "You know, there are a couple little things that every team does in different ways. But we're out here trying to have a good time and put on a show for the fans."
Austin Hyatt, who leads the 'Cutters in saves for the season, was looking forward to his inning on the hill.
"I'm glad to be here, and hope I represent Williamsport well," he said.
He explained that the players suffered almost no effect from the pregame power outage - something they didn't experience in the generator-equipped clubhouse.
"They told me this was the first time the power ever went off here," he observed.
The State College players - who enjoyed a short trip to the ballpark today - actually had the longest trip to State College outside of the players from Vermont. That's where the home team was Sunday. It was the worst part of being an all star, Spikes pitcher Phillip Irwin said.
"We got back at 7 in the morning yesterday, we slept 'til 2 and then we had to be back up here," he said, then laughed about the person who made the schedule. "I don't know. They should be fired, though."
Players from both teams were just happy to be here - all of them expressed their gratitude at being selected. Barnes, an 11th-round pick this year out of Notre Dame, said it best in his soft Texas drawl.
"Oh goodness, it's a huge honor," he said. "It's my first year in pro ball this year and I'm just trying to come out and get better at the game.
"It's just fun, a good experience to come here, meet all these players and mingle with them. It's been relaxing, and it's been a blast."
Echoing that sentiment - perhaps with a different sort of honesty - was State College's Brock Holt, another Texan. Holt came in as the leading home run hitter among NL players, and helped his side to a win in the home run derby before the game.
"I just don't want to embarrass myself," he said. "I want to go out and hit a couple, maybe give the fans something to cheer about."
But the derby was his chance to do it, as a mild injury from Sunday's game limited his ability to fully participate. That's OK, he said - he's just glad to be here.
"It's awesome to get to come out here and play in our home ballpark and getting to see all the fan support," he said. "We're just kind of relaxing and enjoying ourselves. It's fun to get to come back here and play here."