I have never received so many replies to a tweet before:
Who are the noteworthy Colorado celebrities that should play in the ASG celebrity softball game?— Justin Wick (@justwick) May 25, 2021
MLB’s All-Star festivities feature the All-Star Game itself on Tuesday, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and the Futures Game on Sunday. Another significant event—the “MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game”—takes place on Sunday.
The last softball game (2019) featured names like Jamie Foxx, Simone Biles and Anthony Mackie, as well as former big leaguers Jim Thome, Mike Napoli and Travis Hafner. Softball legend Jennie Finch was in on the action, just as she has been for years. Over 25 players took the field in all, and several were closely tied to the host city of Cleveland.
The tradition will continue in Denver, assuming virus protocols will allow it to take place in close timing to the Futures Game. There has to be some Colorado staples in the mix for each roster, so here are some leading candidates in multiple categories:
Starting with the Rockies legends:
The guy played at Coors Field for 17 years and has a burger shack at the park named after him. Helton is currently 47 and if he’s again placed at first base, he won’t have to do much running in this contest (aside from a couple hopeful home run trots).
He saw his jersey retirement ceremony postponed last year. This invite is a no-brainer given the timeliness, and the Rockies can finally give him a direct ovation after 2020 didn’t allow it. His Hall of Fame induction is scheduled for July 25th, so the month of July is already a big one for him. Walker is 54, but he is no ordinary 54-year-old.
CarGo is 35 and has played the second-most games in Rockies history. He played 45 total games in 2019 and hasn’t suited up in the big leagues since; it could be fitting for the Rockies to bring him back after his last visit to 20th and Blake came as a visitor with the Cubs.
The current assistant coach at Oklahoma State University will be finished with his current collegiate season later this month. His final games as a big leaguer were spent with Colorado in 2018, and his notable tenure with the Rockies led the franchise to the 2007 World Series. Holliday is 41.
It might be uncharacteristic to have a true big league pitcher in the softball game, but Ubaldo could always toss some softball. He is 37 and was in shape for 2020 spring training.
There could still be some bad blood between Tulo and the Rockies’ front office from after the Colorado-Toronto trade, so this invite could be a trivial one. Tulowitzki currently coaches at the University of Texas (in the Big 12 Conference with Holliday), and is 36.
Moving to the Colorado celebrities:
From Denver East High School’s Class of 1982: Don Cheadle has established himself as an iconic actor and filmmaker. The Rockies didn’t exist for 11 years after his high school graduation, but an invite should be in order for one of the more well-regarded cinema personalities to ever come out of Colorado.
Actress, comedian and Saturday Night Live staple Leslie Jones is an alumna of Colorado State University, and is supposedly a baseball fan (or at least played the part during an SNL bit). A character of Jones’ status could make for some must-see softball.
Jessica Biel grew up in Boulder and attended Fairview High School. She also starred in the 2001 film Summer Catch, so she has to have some love for baseball. Biel is married to Justin Timberlake, which may suggest a two-for-one softball invite is in order.
Colorado’s own representative and all-time winningest panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn: Woody Paige knows Coors Field and Colorado sports all too well. He is arguably one of the most identifiable sportswriters in the country, thanks to his iconic chalkboard and his friendly banter with Tony Reali.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker
The entire series of South Park is based in Colorado, and inviting the co-creators is the closest we can get to an actual character. Parker went to Evergreen High School, while Stone went to Heritage High School in Littleton.
I don’t know if many people would recognize Tom Shane on a baseball field, but maybe he could announce himself as he walked to the plate like he has for ages: “Now you have a friend in the diamond business.”
Some other Colorado sports staples:
He graduated from Denver’s George Washington High School in 1995. He played at the University of Colorado for two years after that. He would later play to the Denver Nuggets from 1998-2000 and from 2008-2011. There may not be a more ‘homegrown’ player than Mr. Big Shot.
Manning helped revitalize the Denver Broncos and helped bring a third Super Bowl victory to the Mile High City. He has further ties to the Rockies: his backup quarterback at the University of Tennessee was Todd Helton.
The MVP of Super Bowl 50 deserves an invite too—although an ankle injury kept him out of football for all of 2020. The Broncos might not want him putting any additional strain on his lower extremities, but we’re also talking about slow pitch softball here.
What would this event be without a perennial figure in winter sports? Vonn competed in four Winter Olympics and has collected 82 different World Cup victories in skiing. She calls Vail, Colorado her hometown.
A 13-year veteran of the Colorado Avalanche and two-time Stanley Cup champion, Joe Sakic spent his entire career with the Avalanche franchise and was even part of the Quebec Nordiques’ move to Denver. He is currently an executive with the Avalanche, and has even seen Coors Field turn into a hockey venue back in 2016.
If you take home four gold medals in an Olympics, you most certainly deserve a celebrity softball invite in your hometown. Franklin attended Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado. She and her husband Hayes are expecting their first child in August, however, so this one is probably a no.
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Thank you to everybody that responded to my tweet! I was amused for hours as the replies poured in; the tweet boiled over into the basis of this article, and for that I thank you all for playing along. (The full thread can be found here.)
I wanted to include a few more notable responses (and the Twitter profiles that shouted them out):
Nikola Jokić (@Sterling_303)
John Elway (@wildtheinnocent)
Amy Adams (Douglas County HS) (@Juleebess)
Dealin’ Doug (@TravRowland)
Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda (Colorado Springs) (@RoxPile)
Jake Jabs (@InnerMetsologue)
Tim Allen (born in Denver) (@sksnelson)
Casa Bonita cliff divers (@NVanArk)
Frank “The Strong Arm” Azar (@SammieB_27)
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Following Germán Márquez’s 700th career strikeout last weekend, Ben Macaluso writes on the impact the Venezuelan-born pitcher has made with the franchise. On his career strikeout total: “He became the fastest Rockie ever to accomplish that feat. He’s really not that far out for the most strikeouts in franchise history.”
Jorge De La Rosa is the franchise leader in strikeouts with 985; Márquez is 283 behind him.
The Texas Rangers enter Coors Field this evening with 12 consecutive road losses. A Rockies win tonight would set a new Rangers record.
Patrick Saunders provides a full recap on the recent performance of Kyle Freeland; the lefty holds a 4.50 ERA through two starts (8 IP) after pitching two rehab starts in Albuquerque (1.80 ERA, 10 IP). Saunders talks about how Freeland was “uneven” on Sunday, according to manager Bud Black: “His first-pitch strike ratio was great, yet there were a lot of three-ball counts, and 84 pitches in four innings.”
On the farm
- League-wide off day for Low-A, High-A, Double-A
- Triple-A: Sugar Land Skeeters 3, Albuquerque Isotopes 2
The Isotopes ran into a buzzsaw of a starting pitcher: Sugar Land’s Brett Conine holds a 0.95 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 19 innings this year. Albuquerque collected six total hits and was unable to erase a one-run deficit in the final four innings.
The Albuquerque bullpen did a great job keeping Sugar Land off the board from the sixth inning on, however. Ben Bowden, Lucas Gilbreath and Chad Smith all tossed a scoreless frame; they tallied a combined four strikeouts and did not allow a walk.
Albuquerque’s run production came by way of a Danny Edgeworth home run and a Ryan Vilade ground ball-turned-fielding error. Vilade was the only Isotope to record multiple hits, going 2-for-4.
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