CLEVELAND — For the first time since 2019, the Cleveland Asian Festival returned as an in-person event, and Cleveland Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan and second baseman Yu Chang got out in the community while experiencing the cultural event.
The two players spent the morning at a booth, meeting fans, taking pictures and signing autographs. Demand to meet the two players was high, as festival attendees reveled in the fact that they had just seen Chang on the field the day before and couldn't wait to get face time with the Guardians candidate for MLB Rookie of the Year in Kwan.
"The energy here is amazing, a ton of people here, a lot of love for the Guardians, it's been a really good time," Kwan said at the festival.
Kwan, whose father is Chinese American and mother is Japanese American, said he didn't realize Cleveland had such a thriving AsiaTown neighborhood and was excited to get to experience all of the cultures in the city he now calls home.
"Kind of exploring Cleveland has been really cool, this is a really cool event," Kwan said.
Both Kwan and Chang took the time to appreciate the festivities while also being honored to represent the less than 5% of Major League Baseball players who are of Asian background.
"I feel so good today. It's good to see a lot of foreign people come to Asian Festival to know more about Asian cultures," Chang said at the event. "I hope there's much more Asian people come to play in Major League in the future."
Kwan said that being able to provide representation to the next generation of players is something that he is honored to do.
"When I was a kid, I really didn't see a lot of representation like that so it's an honor to be kind of in that demographic and just hopefully I can inspire some more people to come up," Kwan said.
While the two continue to inspire more people to diversify the game, Saturday was also about diving into their own culture—and experiencing some new ones along the way as well.
"I'm going to try and explore some foods, get some snacks after this, I'm really excited for that," Kwan said with a smile, not long before Chang also joked that he was always ready for some good food.
Cleveland Asian Festival runs one more day, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at East 27th Street and Payne Avenue.
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