FRISCO — James Earl Jones voice: Baseball. Ohhhh baseball.
Well ... something like baseball anyway. Tonight was yet another iteration of Dirk Nowitzki’s annual Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game, and as always, it was quite the silly, enjoyable affair. Nothing quite compares to a packed minor league baseball stadium full of enthusiastic fans pumped to see a ton of non-baseball-players play something resembling baseball.
With various antics between each inning — one of which threatened injury to both Yogi Ferrell and Dwight Powell. But more on that shortly.
The night started off with a moving and somber tribute to the families and friends of the Dallas police officers killed or injured in the shooting at El Centro College last year. Retired Dallas Police Chief David Brown even threw out the first pitch. It was a good moment for the crowd.
Once the game got started, it took a little while for the scoring to begin. In his first at bat, Dirk hit a nice ball out into the outfield, and any of his teammates might have made it a double or triple. But that’s not Dirk’s style. After bragging in the pre-game press conference that he would let his speed take care of things tonight, Dirk casually jogged backwards to first, settling for a cool single on his hit. However, his teammates didn’t get him any further, and no one scored until the 3rd inning.
Some hilarity took place in the middle innings, involving some of your Dallas Mavericks. At one point, Salah Mejri hit a double, but alas, he didn’t realize that he had to keep a foot planted on second base. He was promptly tagged out on the other side of second, but took a few seconds to vociferously argue his case with the ump, much to the crowd’s encouragement. Shortly thereafter, in between innings, Yogi Ferrell participated in one of the fun competitive games for the fans. He agreed to let a fan pull him around the bases in a little red wagon. Dwight Powell tried to give him a little push to get him going, and both fell over and tumbled over the wagon. The game’s announcer was quick to make sure Rick Carlisle didn’t see. Everyone was fine, but Yogi’s first time in a little red wagon turned out to be quite the rough ride (see what I did there?).
One other great Yogi moment came a little later. In his first at bat, he struck out swinging, and seemed quite frustrated about it. The next time he was at bat, Rick Carlisle wasn’t going to let it happen again. He called a time out in the middle of Yogi’s at bat, and went to the plate to coach his young point guard up. Yogi, having been taught to choke up on the bat, promptly got himself an RBI.
Once the scoring started, it became clear that the star quarterback and wide receiver of the Dallas Cowboys were the crowd favorites. It felt like Dak and Dez got a rise from the crowd each time they were involved in a play, either good or bad. Just before Yogi’s RBI, Dez got a huge roar from the crowd when a hit drove him home to break the early 1-1 tie. Later, in the inning that would decide the game, Dak Prescott proved himself to be the hero. With Dirk’s home team down 3-1, Dak hit a booming shot to left field, driving home Michael Young to make it 3-2. Former Ranger David Murphy followed that up with a triple to tie the game. Devin Harris then hit a single to drive Murph home and take the lead for the home team, 4-3.
The White Sox would eventually take it 5-3, but not before some controversy occurred. Late in the 8th inning, Brian Cardinal got the crowd riled up by jogging home with all the speed he could muster before sliding in for a close call at the plate. He was called out, and the boos were deafening. Donnie Nelson and the rest of the White team stormed the field, arguing that Cardinal was safe. The Blue team then met them out on the field, and all was pandemonium. In a Heroes game first, Dirk decided that there would indeed be replay allowed, and the crowd was sure that the Janitor was safe. Alas, the umpire wasn’t willing to change his mind, and Cardinal remained out. The crowd was unhappy, to say the least.
In the end, Dirk’s team won, and an unlikely star won the MVP: Andy Roddick. Turns out tennis stars can bat, as Roddick had two meaningful hits in the game. Good thing he invited himself to this event, as he jokingly announced to the press before the game.
This game felt more exciting and competitive than some of the games in the past, and the crowd really fed off of it. It was one of the better Heroes games we’ve had in a while, though they’re all fun. The real takeaway was that the crowd loved it. And Dirk was a phenomenal host as always.
For once, the Heroes baseball game .... felt like a baseball game. Good stuff!