By Darius Williams
If the sight of his seven foot frame hunched over in the batters box, hacking away at 60 mph fastballs wasn’t hysterical enough in itself, Dirk Nowitzki joking on Friday at the Annual Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game practice that the Mavericks brass had somehow managed to use their second round pick on a guy who was slower than he was brought a bunch of laughter. He did however have a more positive post draft analysis of the Mavericks first round selection, Virginia’s wing Justin Anderson. When asked directly about how Anderson could fit in immediately, Nowitzki said “He already has an NBA body and is very athletic. He improved his shot every year in college and looks to be able to defend multiple positions”.
Before the media was brisked away off the field of Dr Pepper Ballpark At Frisco, both Nowitzki and teammate Devin Harris took to the batting cage. With each chop at the ball, both reminded those in attendance watching just why they were basketball players. Bat speed and patience at the plate was not evident.
Saturday’s game between the White Sox and Blue Sox brought together 46 local celebrities for a charitable benefit. An announced crowd of over 10,000 filled the stands an hour before the first pitch. The pregame press conference was full of jokes about each player’s inability to play the game of baseball which was an accurate summation of most suited up, with the exception of Mr. Ranger Michael Young, former Ranger Kevin Mench and former Oakland A’s first round pick Ben Grieve.
A first inning 2-run homer by Mench brought the crowd to its feet. But it was a single hit between second and third by Cowboys All Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant that brought the biggest cheer during the game. As Bryant sprinted to beat the throw to first, just like after the many touchdowns he has scored in his 5 year career, he “Threw Up The X” to the delight of the crowd.
Bryant again brought the crowd to its feet in the middle of the 5th inning when he ran down a hit to left field by Cowboy teammate and kicker Dan Bailey for the third out of the inning. In a move that displayed both great athleticism and slight bad judgement, he turned a back flip in celebration of the play. There was a gasp throughout the stands initially as it became evident of what he was about to do. After sticking a landing that would have impressed most Olympic gymnastics judges, an eruption of applause echoed in the stands.
Looking surprisingly good at the plate was 6’5″ 320 lb Cowboy offensive tackle Tyron Smith. The nimble footed blind side protector of Tony Romo went 2 for 2 at the plate with 2 doubles. Nash looked like he belonged on the field with great plays at second base and 2 singles hit. In a move uncertain as to why, a Blue Sox player named Edward Egros looked at ten straight pitches before taking what has to be the ugliest swings in baseball history on the next three pitches to strike out. He should have got those three whiffs out of the way earlier in the count.
The game ended with the Blue Sox being the victor. However the real winner of this game and event was the Heroes Foundation. This was the fourth year that this event has taken place, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in its efforts. The night ended with a wonderful fireworks display and many of the players signing autographs for the fans. I heard one fan scream out to Dez Bryant, “Can you hurry and autograph that new contract”? “Here soon” he replied as he winked and headed off the field.