It's a job he'll handle willingly
"FanFest, a couple of things with TV stations, autograph signings, talking to kids, kissing babies ... it's going to be fun," Hunter said, wide grin crossing his face.
So far, though, no appearances with the Rally Monkey.
"I'm actually scared of the Monkey," Hunter joked. "He's pretty aggressive. When he's in a bad mood, he'll actually scratch you."
Hunter was bitterly disappointed that he had to bow out of last year's game in St. Louis with a groin injury. As a kid growing up in Arkansas, Hunter was a huge Cardinals fan. He loved Ozzie Smith and Vince Coleman. To a degree, last year's game in St. Louis was personal with him, given the ties to his boyhood memories.
So he's determined to enjoy everything about this year's game. Three of his children were trailing around with him Monday, and Hunter said he was showing them the ropes -- up to and including "kissing babies."
Part of it is that Hunter naturally is a friendly, outgoing guy who simply enjoys people.
Part of it is that he learned from another gregarious legend as he was coming up as a kid in the Minnesota Twins' system.
"I used to watch Kirby Puckett all the time," Hunter said. "He was always smiling and talking to people. Whenever people needed him, media, vendors, whoever, he talked to them. I watched that.
"That's why I always talk. That's why, if you come to me and need something, I'll say yes. I don't beg for it, but if you've got a kid coming up. ..."
And if that kid is unsure of himself, or needs a good influence ... Hunter is there.