08/22/12 5:50 PM ET
'Modern Family' actor an All-Star in Kansas City
Stonestreet plays with greats, describes Derby in broadcast role
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Consider this description of Eric Stonestreet, the straight guy who plays one-half of America's favorite gay couple on the ABC hit show "Modern Family":
"As a young man raising pigs, he never would have imagined that he would end up an actor in Los Angeles. But while at Kansas State University, studying to be a prison administrator, a friend dared him to audition for the play Prelude to a Kiss. Stonestreet was cast in the play (in the smallest role) and was, as they say, bitten by the bug."
Pig farmer? Prison administrator?
Is there anything else we don't we know about Eric Stonestreet?
Actually, there is. Stonestreet is a big baseball fan. This all came out when his hometown Kansas City Royals hosted the All-Star Game and recruited him to participate in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.
From there, it seemed that Stonestreet was everywhere. His goal during the softball game was to simply not embarrass himself, especially since he was hanging out with the likes of Bo Jackson, George Brett, Jennie Finch and Steve Garvey -- bona fide super stars in their own right, and a lot less likely to tumble while fielding a ball during an exhibition game played in front of, oh, 40,000 or so fans at Kauffman Stadium.
Stonestreet pulled through without incident. He also took from it a slew of unforgettable conversations he had with sports figures he had always admired from afar.
He relayed a few of those encounters while watching the State Farm Home Run Derby and chatting with MLB.com's Jeremy Brisiel.
Stonestreet called the Derby as part of the content development Expressed Written Consent. The goal is to bring nontraditional broadcasters into the booth, to have a go at the pastime that's evolved alongside the national pastime: calling the game.
MLB.com will be unveiling more original broadcasts over the next several weeks. Among the new crop: Bill and Willie Geist, Kevin Pollak and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.
So bookmark EWC to see which storyteller's story is the most fun and whose future in the booth is brightest.
When talking about his sports heroes, Stonestreet sounded more like the average Joe off the street and less like a Hollywood celeb.
"I got to hang out with George Brett," he said.
It got better. Brett made sure Stonestreet got the most out of this rare opportunity.
"He said, 'Come on Stonestreet, you and I are going out and playing on the field,'" Stonestreet recalled. "I said, 'George, I really feel more comfortable behind home plate.'"
Brett wouldn't hear of it.
"No, you're coming with me," Stonestreet remembered Brett telling him.
That's when Stonestreet had to come clean: he's not a runner. At all. When he does run, it's in very, very brief spurts. Anything beyond that is just slightly out of his comfort zone.
"If a ball comes this way," Stonestreet said to Brett, "You are going to have to cut it off."
So the two strolled out to shallow center field, which translates in exhibition softball to just behind second base. Brett put his arm around Stonestreet and said, "I wanted you to come out here because I wanted you to see the field from this perspective. Not many people get to see this."
"I said, 'OK, George Brett," Stonestreet recalled. "That's just awesome."
Stonestreet laughed at another bit of advice he received while trying to figure out where to go for batting practice. Lost? Just follow Garvey.
"That would have been a really great thing to do, like in the heyday," Stonestreet laughed, referring to Garvey's, ahem, interesting past off the field. "Follow Steve Garvey somewhere. I would imagine Steve Garvey could have gotten you in some good trouble back in the day."