Guest Post by Jim Dalby…
There is something magical when you can combine several of the things you love into an event. I had nothing to do with organizing the Reggie Sanders Foundation for Autism Wiffleball game, and I wasn’t exactly excited about it. After getting home from work at one a.m., the thought of getting up to drive across town for a 7:30 a.m. start wasn’t thrilling me much. My excuse? I forgot how much I love this game.
After the day finished, I left the Diamondbacks’ new Talking Stick Field incredibly impressed. I had not met Nick Benas before. I knew of him from being at the helm of Big League Wiffle Ball, but that was it. I learned of this event only last week and had no idea how he was gonna pull it off, but it worked, and it worked incredibly well.
The celebrity game was preceded by Jim Balian, the two time Fastplastic wiffleball player of the year, facing off against a Murderer’s Row of sorts in some fast pitch action. Reggie Sanders started it off, with no success. Steve Finley dug in next and you could tell he was really wanting to put the ball in play against the two time national champ. Finley left the box after what had to be seven strikes. Next up was decathlon world champion Dan O’Brien, who surprised me with a good swing, but he had the same result. Former-Giant pitcher Russ Ortiz showed some very good skills at the dish, but after a first pitch drop ball from Balian pounded the zone, Ortiz shook his head and mumbled. His mumbling didn’t last long after a backwards K, and was followed up by Greg Swindell’s strikeout making it 5 in a row for the Arizona Viper star. Here is what is impressive…the great attitudes by all. I heard Finley telling of his experience all through the day, “there is nothing i could do that’s harder than hitting that” was the former-D’Backs first reaction after his at-bat.
The slow pitch celebrity game worked also, it really did. Former Met Al Schmeltz pounded two bombs to lead O-B’s Old Timers to a big win over Reggies All-Stars. I tried to not getting a stalking citation from bothering Bert Campaneris. The great former A’s shortstop from the late 60’s and early 70’s looked like he was in better shape than most people half his age. He still has a great swing, and the speed is still there. Did I mention attitudes? This was a fun group that actively involved themselves with everyone around. Nick and Jim represented our sport very well, and seemed to be able to mix in with anyone. Not enough for you yet? How about Miss Arizona lacing a single and running bases in high heels?
Great day that had me really missing everything about Wiffle, the friendships, competition, everything. I really hope to get to work with Nick in any future events to sets up, he pulled off an incredible day for a great cause that a lot of people will talk about for awhile.
Message from Nick Benas: Jim Balian was amazing on the mound, please stay tune this week for videos and pics! A special thanks goes out to Mr. Jim Dalby for taking control of both teams in the dugout and handling the stacked line-up cards.