By Todd Marcum, President
I am a baseball freak. I am one of those guys you simply don’t want to get on the subject. I can name the 1906 Cubs infield, am delighted to engage a debate on why the 1990 Reds are underrated and have been known to lug The Baseball Register, a giant book containing the records of every major leaguer, across the country in an effort to add a few signatures to the 250 or so I have accumulated thus far. My son, now 20, has an equally serious case of Baseball Fever.
When an old friend landed the job of organizing Spring Training for the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona, we took it as a sign and scheduled a Spring Break trip to the Grand Canyon State where we saw five games in four days, plus other assorted activities. What we didn’t bargain for is to be plunked down in the middle of one of the great media events of 2015 as Will Ferrell helicoptered from ballpark to ballpark to play 10 positions for 10 teams in one day.
We actually got to see him play in person for four teams…the Angels, where he took the place of Mike Trout and cleanly fielded a baseball hit to centerfield; the Cubs, where he struck out…badly; the Dodgers, where he was given a break as a pitcher; and the Padres, where he watched a mammoth home run sail over his head. In each case, he was cheered as if he had won the World Series with a walk-off homer.
The baseball purist in me can admit a little reservation about the integrity of the game, but it is Spring Training. Unlike most games, every game Ferrell attended was sold out and the fans loved being a part of the wacky adventure. The teams had fun with it, having press conferences announcing trades and releases for Ferrell. Ferrell’s projects got a lot of publicity. Cancer research will make a lot of money. The players loved rubbing elbows with the amiable Hollywood star. And a good time was had by all. Here’s a background article on why he did it.
The logistics were crazy. The teams altered their schedules to start an hour apart, but baseball is a game without a clock. That means some games are faster than others. He actually had to land his helicopter on the field of one game to get in the requisite action and the final game of the day was crisply played and he ran right past me in full Giants uniform to change into his Dodger blues and finish up the night. The sold out crowd hung around to hear his final words, which were filled with Ferrell-style exaggeration, but also a great deal of appreciation for the opportunity he was given.
Here’s a nice article on Will Ferrell’s Big Day. It was dumb luck I got to be a part of it. And also a great blessing.