07/13/2003 11:03 PM ET
Athletes, actors suit up for softball
It's all fun at the Legends and Celebrity softball game
CHICAGO -- As soon as the final out was made in the Futures Game on Sunday, the playing surface at U.S. Cellular Field became a zoo, filled with a mishmash of Hollywood, the Hall of Fame and a few comedians and athletes in between, all of whom were suited up to participate in the 2003 Legends and Celebrity softball game.
The band Live performed an abbreviated concert as everyone from Dave Winfield to Gary Carter to Adam Corrola to Ian Ziering poured onto the field, where a close-to-capacity crowd couldn't get enough of the star-studded jamboree that pitted actors and musicians against legendary names of Major League Baseball's past.
While it's true that Hollywood is filled with beautiful people, it also should be said that no one -- except maybe Shannon Elizabeth -- is as tall as they seem on TV.
Trista's posse: One of the most popular figures -- literally -- to play in this year's celebrity softball game was undoubtedly The Bachelorette, Trista Rehn, who looked positively perky in her Cardinals jersey and baseball cap.
Futures Game participants J.J. Hardy and Dave Krynzel were not shy in expressing their excitement to meet Rehn, whose betrothed, Ryan Sutter, lurked in the first row of seats right behind home plate.
"She's awesome," Hardy said. "I watched every episode, of that one at least."
Before the pregame introductions, Rehn ran over to Sutter for a quick word.
Last minute batting tips, Trista?
"No, I was reminding him to take pictures," she laughed.
Ryan looked a bit uneasy before this game began. Turned out, he was.
"I warmed up with her and I'm a little nervous for her," he said diplomatically. "I stink," Rehn explained in simpler terms.
You would think that someone who dated 25 people in front of a dozen camera operators would not get nervous at the idea of playing a little softball in front of a few thousand -- OK, 30,000 -- onlookers. Not true, Sutter said.
"There's a lot of people," Sutter said. "There's no going back on this. There are no editors to pick out the good stuff."
Bo knows Superman: There was so much shoulder rubbing before this softball game it was hard to tell who was more excited -- the actors or the athletes.
Superman himself, Dean Cain, sat in the dugout before the game wearing an old-time Dodgers jersey, just taking in the scene. Forget that he is a Hollywood heartthrob. Cain was sitting near Bo Jackson, and that was a thrill for the Man of Steel.
"I mean, come on -- Bo Jackson -- he's the greatest athlete ever created by God," Cain said.
Did he tell Bo that?
"He knows it," Cain responded. "He doesn't need me to tell him."
Ozzie Smith, who spent nearly two decades in the national spotlight, was his usual calm, cool and friendly self during the pregame hoopla. But even the Wizard admitted he was enjoying the present company.
"I met Brian McKnight before and Jimmy Kimmel too," he said. "We've crossed paths at some point in time."
Which begs the question: Are these comedians as much of a hoot off camera as they are when an audience is watching?
"Oh yeah," Smith said. "In fact, every time they open their mouth something funny comes out."
On who was more awestruck, the actors or the athletes, Smith estimated it was probably a wash.
"It's one of those things where they would rather be doing what we're doing and we'd rather be doing what they're doing," he surmised.
Loudest cheers: South Siders haven't forgotten their heroes of sports past. While the crowd warmly welcomed most of the celebrities who participated in the softball game, the loudest cheers went to Jim McMahon, Jack McDowell and Bo Jackson, all of whom made names for themselves in Chicago in the 1980s.
The crowd became especially nutty when McMahon, still in good shape and still wearing those signature sunglasses, walked onto the field during the pregame introductions.
"Really? I didn't really hear it," McMahon said later in the dugout as he took a sip from a paper cup. "But I did tip my beer to them."
Before McMahon could elaborate, he heard someone call his name from behind the glass partition behind home plate. "Hey, Jesse Jackson!" McMahon shouted. Turning back, he said ever so politely, "Excuse me, but I really need to talk to the reverend."
Random musings: For someone who did not watch the third installment of "The Bachelor" -- why did the crowd boo Andrew Firestone? Did they think the cute guy with bad hair should have picked Kirsten over Jen, to whom he is currently engaged? ... Speaking of bachelors, apparently Trista and Ryan made a few friends while they fell in love on the small screen. Standing next to Sutter at U.S. Cellular Field was none other than Chicago Jamie, the tall, blond hunky guy who got the boot halfway through the show. ... Jimmy Kimmel, to a group of kids who yelled "you (stink)!" from behind the dugout: "Hey, you (stink) too! I've seen Little League games! I know how it works -- you make mistakes too!" ... Away from all of the pregame chaos sat Cain, who used that time to put on his "game face." About to make his first attempt at playing shortstop since his days at Princeton University, the actor pondered how he would fare against his counterpart on the opposing team. "Geez, it's Ozzie Smith," he said with a chuckle. "How fair is that? They're going to hit ground balls at me. Hard."
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.