(Photo courtesy of Phototainment)
SEATTLE - Maybe Dan Wilson knew something that Jay Buhner didn’t when he picked Seahawks wide receiver
As a graduate of Pope John Paul II High School in Henderson, Tenn., Tate was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2007 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. After playing two seasons at Notre Dame, the two-sport star was drafted again in 2010 in the 50th round by the San Francisco Giants.
In 55 games during his sophomore season, Tate hit .329 and scored 45 runs for the Irish, both third on the team. However, an outfielder throughout his high school and college careers, Tate had other images of what he wanted from the game of baseball and that’s one reason he relishes the opportunities to play in celebrity softball games.
“I always wanted to play shortstop my whole life. I’m left-handed, so that never happened,” he laughed while his teammates for the day took batting practice at the Seattle Mariners home stadium. “So anytime I get to play in a softball game I try to find a way to ease in at shortstop.”
Tate leapt at the chance to play in a celebrity softball game because he wanted to play a game he grew up loving. He also was excited at the opportunity to take part in an event with such local icons as Buhner and Wilson from the Mariners, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf and Slick Watts from the Supersonics, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and award-winning author Sherman Alexie, among others. The United Way’s cause of fighting youth homelessness was a clincher for Tate though.
“I’m definitely a huge supporter of the cause. I want to reduce child homelessness as much as possible and give them the necessities to succeed in life. That starts as a child with eating right and school and those things,” said the 24-year-old Tate, who is entering his fourth season with the Seahawks. “I’m happy to be here and be a part of this.”
Tate was having a good time at the game, playing shortstop with an ear-to-ear grin. But when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the third inning, the speedster surprised everyone in attendance, unfurling his 202-pound frame and blasting a towering grand slam to help lead the charge for Wilson’s team as they took an 18-3 lead. Buhner’s team would charge back in the final inning, but Wilson’s team held them off for an 18-17 win.
In total, over 7,000 fans crossed the turnstiles at Safeco Field, raising over 1.2 million dollars for the United Way.
“I just found out that the United Way in Seattle is the biggest branch in the country. That just made me really proud of our community and the people that contribute to that,” said Ament. “The fact that we can raise over a million dollars today is pretty incredible – and we’re doing something really fun.”
Added Schrempf, whose own Detlef Schrempf Foundation raises millions of dollars every year, “We have a great community. People care. People come out and support a lot of good causes.”
Tate took home the MVP trophy for the day’s events. And while the time he had on the field with other local celebrities and event sponsors was enough to send him home smiling, nothing compared to the feeling of knowing that it was all to help end youth homelessness.