This charity celebrity softball game met the requirements for nonsense and horseplay, antics and slapstick.
These things are all about celebrity not softball, with charity being the most vital element of the day.
And if you’re thinking this had anything to do with athleticism, consider this: Host and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman twice walked a batter named Claudia Jordan, who is noted for appearing on a television show titled “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
(Receivers around the NFL might keep that tidbit in their pockets for taunting come this fall.)
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And on repeated balls hit in his direction, 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant showed an astonishing absence of ability without a basketball in his hands.
But few in greater Pugetopia can match Sherman as a draw for fans (especially when you toss in an appearance by quarterback Russell Wilson), so his annual event at Safeco Field not only drew a crowd in the 20,000 range Sunday but also a live telecast by KIRO-TV.
That’s correct. Sherman’s softball game filled about half the Safeco seats on a day with temperatures in the mid-90s.
The interest is in part reflective of the inexorable lure of anything to do with the Seahawks, but also offers testimony to the popularity of Sherman.
To understand his appeal beyond his obvious contributions to the Seahawks on the field, all you have to do is listen to his motivation for establishing this event — funding his Blanket Coverage program.
“We’re trying to help a lot of kids academically, to get themselves in a better position to be successful later on in life,” Sherman said. “That’s always the goal of our foundation and everything we do; all our efforts are focused on making sure the next generation has a better chance, especially focusing on kids in underprivileged neighborhoods and underfunded schools.”
At the pregame press conference, the podium was backed by a sponsors’ banner that touted support by 14 companies, many big-name national concerns.
Sherman said the sponsor interest is because “everybody wants to help the kids … the money goes to the kids.”
For a couple of years, Sherman’s foundation has been supplying computer equipment to try to level the scholastic playing field at underfunded schools. During the holidays, the foundation “adopts” families, and gives backpacks filled with school supplies to local kids.
Sherman was asked if he ever met any of the recipients. “I meet all of them, every single one,” he said. “We go to schools and I sit down and meet personally with a lot of kids.”
The foundation targets students who have potential but who have fallen short of meeting it for various reasons.
“It’s a very good event; the atmosphere was electric last year,” said Lawyer Milloy, a former Seahawk. “That’s what happens when you have a stand-up guy like Richard, and, obviously, the success of our team. We’re focused on the needs of people who are less privileged than us. Richard does a great job of that.”
In earlier interviews, Sherman cited the inspiration of his hard-working father, who went off to a job on a garbage truck in the predawn hours.
On Sunday, his father, Kevin Sherman, played in the softball game, and showed he still has pretty good wheels and can make nice contact with the bat. This garbage man deserved to clean up. He would have gotten my vote for MVP — Most Valuable Parent.
The published rosters for these things always seem inflated, and this one failed to produce Floyd Mayweather, Dez Bryant, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Russell Westbrook.
Still, it featured a number of Seahawks, including Marshawn Lynch as a pinch runner in the final inning. Hoop stars Durant, Isaiah Thomas and Jamal Crawford also played.
Richard Sherman was the focus, though, a role comfortable to him.
For a column a year or so ago, I asked Sherman if he had looked ahead and formed a long-term goal for himself. He said: “To change the world.”
Well, he aims high. Which didn’t work for him as a pitcher on Sunday.
But as a batter, on the first pitch of the game, he roped a line drive over the left-field fence.
That was just the start because this whole event was a home run for Sherman, and for his foundation. But mostly for the kids who continue to benefit from it.