On one of the hottest days of this unusually warm summer, 20,000 fans came to Safeco Field Sunday afternoon for Richard Sherman's Celebrity Game. The fans were there to cheer on some of their favorite Seahawks, as well as other professional athletes and celebrities, and also to support Sherman's Blanket Coverage Foundation.
A big crowd braving mid-90s temperatures was a reminder of just how popular Sherman and the Seahawks are these days, and also to the willingness of fans and celebrities alike to come out in support of a good cause. Because clearly those fans weren't there for the quality of softball on display.
Fans came out to see some of their favorite athletes goof around while helping underprivileged kids at the same time, not to see Kevin Durant, one of the most graceful athletes on a basketball court, look a lot less graceful playing centerfield. Nor were they there for the awareness, or lack thereof, of baseball/softball rules that was on display—sorry, Doug Baldwin, you can't win the game with a walk-off hit in the top of the last inning. Especially when that hit scored the tying run, not the go-ahead run.
This is the coolest thing about being a professional athlete, being able to have an impact on kids.
But joking around aside—and there was a lot of it—Sherman's third softball game for his charity, and second in front of 20,000-plus at Safeco Field, was another example of Seahawks players doing good in their adopted home city. As Sherman writes on his website, Magic Johnson coming to talk to his class at Dominguez High School was a big moment in his life, and now he is trying to give back to area kids in need.
"Obviously we're trying to help a lot of kids academically to get themselves in a better position to be successful later in life," Sherman said. "That's always the goal of our foundation ad everything we do. All our efforts are focused towards making sure the next generation has a better chance, and especially focusing on kids in underprivileged neighborhoods and underfunded schools and things like that."
One of the focuses of the Blanket Coverage Foundation is to raise money for school supplies for kids, but there's also a personal touch involved. Sherman meets with kids from schools around the region and will sit down with kids whose teachers or school counselors see as students with potential who are underachieving for various reasons.
"I'll sit there and chop it up with them, and sometimes it makes a lot of impact," Sherman said. "These kids turn their grades around… you can see the impact."
For NBA veteran Jamal Crawford, a Seattle native who has long been involved in the community, participating in events like Sherman's softball game is the best part of his job.
"This is the coolest thing about being a professional athlete, being able to have an impact on kids, being a positive role model in the community," Crawford said. "When we can all come tougher and do something positive, something lasting, I think it's pretty cool."
All our efforts are focused towards making sure the next generation has a better chance.
As for the game itself, Sherman's blue team fell victim to a late-game comeback by the green team. Zach LaVine, another NBA player with local roots, had the game-winning hit, scoring pinch runner Marshawn Lynch from third. Lynch didn't arrive until the seventh inning, then came off the bench as a pinch runner to score the winning run.
Other highlights from the game included Sherman opening the game with a home run, his father, Kevin Sherman, showing some impressive wheels while scoring from second on a deep fly out, and a rather ridiculous rundown involving Lakers guard Nick Young, who got caught up between third and home, and record producer L.T. Hutton, Richard Sherman and reality TV star Laura Govan. Amazingly that trio was unable to record the out and Young scored.
Before making an early exit to coach at his passing academy, Russell Wilson won the home run derby, just edging out former Seahawks and Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, who signed with New Orleans this offseason. Browner, despite being miffed that a former professional baseball player was eligible to compete in the derby, seemed to thoroughly enjoy his return trip to Seattle, which involved, "Taking pictures and kissing babies."
Browner, one of three former Legion of Boom members in attendance along with Jeron Johnson and Byron Maxwell, also had an over-the-top home run trot following a fifth-inning blast. When it came to discussing Super Bowl rings, however, Browner was diplomatic when asked which was better.
"The one in New England is bigger, but I think the diamonds in the Seattle one are better," he said.
No one took home a ring Sunday, but Lakers forward Matt Barnes did take home the MVP trophy, something he predicted a few hours earlier in a pregame press conference during some playful banter with last year's MVP, Lawyer Milloy.
Richard Sherman was at Safeco Field to host his third Celebrity Softball Game, raising funds for his Blanket Coverage Foundation.