When discussing the Double-A All-Star Game festivities, a few of the terms might need to be a bit relaxed in definition. So, celebrity might have been considered a bit of a reach for the celebrity softball game at Akron's Canal Park. The host Rubberducks were certainly smart in leaning on Northeast Ohioans as there was a heavy contingent of former Indians alongside some of the current local radio and television talent. And, the overall lack of recognizable names did not detract from the enjoyment of those in attendance.
Team Baerga (yes, headed by Carlos Baerga) was set up against Team Wallace (managed by Rubberduck manager Dave Wallace).
As any epic celebrity death match does, the game came down to the final at bat. The bases were loaded for Otto Orf to face Julian Tavarez. Having a legendary member of the Cleveland Crunch up to the plate with the game on the line to face a 16 year MLB veteran is exactly what celebrity softball games are all about. Tavarez had just walked in a run, and his team held firmly to a slim one point lead. Orf grounded out into a fielder's choice to meekly end the game as Team Baerga celebrated.
Most Valuable Player
Former Indian great Travis Hafner hit three home runs in the game and reached base in each of his plate appearances. He also showed no signs of the retirement body ballooning often seen when players leave the game. As a matter of fact, he looked in as good of shape as the players in their early 20’s. And, those players thoroughly enjoyed sharing the dugout with Hafner and openly cheered when he went deep.
Least Valuable Player
Former New England Patriot safety Jerod Cherry had a rough night in the field and at the plate. Sure, it's a different set of skills, but a former athlete in his 40’s should be able to fake it a bit better. He was outshone by several non-athletes. As a matter of fact, he even tried to bunt as a way to reach base. At a celebrity softball game! To his credit, Cherry owned it, laughed it off, and seemed to have fun. Still, even if softball is not in his wheelhouse, I applaud his effort and the fun he clearly had.
Most talked about
Actress Allie DeBerry was a late add to the roster. I am just not of the right age to know of her as an actress. She was the youngest player in the game at age 21, yet she was the name consistently mentioned. She is a pretty lady and that point was not missed throughout the night. She played outfield and, with the aid of a fielder's choice, drove in a run. She also might have gotten a few pointers before the game from her boyfriend, Tyler Beede, who will pitch in the All-Star game Wednesday.
Former Indians great Carlos Baerga wanted to win this game. He limped out for the final innings despite a groin injury. He was shouting, yelling, and really expressing how much he wanted his team to win. He is a bit larger than his playing days, but made a fleet move throwing to second while his momentum took him away from the base early in the game. He was also a gregarious soul the entire game, talking to everyone. He turned away no one and seemed to savor every moment of spotlight he received. In the end, Team Baerga did pick up the win under his leadership.
The Other Captain
Many might not know Dave Wallace, the current manager for the Rubber Ducks. He has been a part of the Indians system, outside of 2008-2011, since 2002. He was a two-sport star at Vanderbilt. He was the backup quarterback on the football field and the catcher on the baseball team. He played sparingly in college, but the Indians saw something there and signed him as an undrafted free agent. He went from undrafted up to Triple-A before transitioning to the caoching side of the game. Now, at the age of 36, he is already managing for his second year in Double-A. Wallace had a pair of homeruns and is a name to know for Indians fans. The Indians do have a history of loving catchers turned managers, and Wallace is a young one coming up in the system.
While Carlos was limping, it was Dustin Fox who actually managed to be the first to bleed. He was legging out an inside the park home run when he managed to injure himself. He also had a more typical home run, and, with the bases loaded in the last frame, he was clearly pitched around. It was a solid showing for the former Buckeye.
As requested on twitter before the game, here is an in-depth scouting report on Betsy Kling, the WKYC Meteorologist. In the first, she was running hard down the line and caused the fielder to make a bad throw, which she took advantage of by making it to second. In celebrity softball, such is scored as an infield double. She seemed to be on base all night, but it was the infield double that stood out. Billy Hamilton, eat your heart out.
In Cleveland, championships outside the big three sport teams are often discounted. Yet, back in the day, the Cleveland Crunch, who were the Cleveland Force and are now the Force again, dominated the indoor soccer world in the late 90’s as much as the Indians did the ballparks. They finished first five out of six years and took home three World Championships. While the league was never as big as the MLS today, those teams still drew well. And, on Tuesday, two of the biggest names from those great teams showed their skills. Otto Orf, the former goalie, and Hector Marinaro, who once scored 255 points in just 32 games, both demonstrated their abilities can translate to baseball even if it was Orf who recorded the last out of the game.