Stars abound in Celebrity Softball Game

Thome, Drew Carey, 'The Miz' represent Cleveland

July 8th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- All-Star Games are packed with star power, and, fittingly, the same goes for the events that take place in the days leading up to the big game. 

One of the most popular activities of All-Star Week every year is the Celebrity Softball Game, which features a mish-mosh of actors, television personalities and athletes who ham it up for the cameras and don't mind laughing at themselves a little (or a lot), all in the name of good old-fashioned entertainment. 

Sunday's Celebrity Softball Game (final score: World 21; Cleveland 16) gave a nearly sold-out crowd exactly what it wanted: native Clevelanders, Indians legends and a fun sampling of personalities from today's popular culture. 

The list included Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who played for the Cleveland team and was one of the most well-received celebrity softball players. 

"We're all proud to represent Cleveland and really show it off," Thome said. "It's a wonderful place. I know a lot of people here are excited to have the All-Star Game here. All of us really want to show our support to the city -- to the organization, and everything."

Carey rocks
What would a Celebrity Softball Game in Cleveland be without Drew Carey? The host of “The Price is Right” and longtime actor and comedian grew up in Cleveland, still has a house there and put his hometown on the map with his 1990s hit sitcom "The Drew Carey Show." For his walkup music at the celeb game, Carey chose -- what else? -- "Cleveland Rocks." 

The affable Carey called the All-Star experience "insane." 

"I don't even think I belong here," he said with a laugh. 

Carey, a loyal Cleveland sports fan, was excited to play softball with some of the city's greatest athletes, including Thome, with whom he had one prior encounter years ago as the ceremonial first pitch thrower at a Tribe game. 

"We were playing catch in the infield and I threw the ball at him, and it skidded to the ground," Carey recalled. "Then he picked up the ball and threw it at me. I heard a sound, stuck my glove out, and my hand hurt the rest of the day.

"He wasn't messing with me. He wasn't trying to hurt me. He was just throwing the ball -- a Jim Thome throw. All I saw was a bolt of light, for a second, like a laser beam, and my hand hurt the rest of the day."

Fathers and sons
Clothing and sneaker designer Jerry Lorenzo, who played for the World softball team, has carved out his own niche in the fashion world, as the founder of the streetwear label Fear of God.

But Lorenzo has a baseball background -- one more extensive than people may think. Lorenzo is the son of former Major League player and coach Jerry Manuel, and what's more, many years ago, Lorenzo worked for the Dodgers’ front office in corporate sponsorship.

Lorenzo, who played baseball in college, always sensed his career path would take him toward fashion. But he has nothing but fond memories of growing up around baseball -- especially the three years he accompanied his dad to All-Star Games in 1995, '99 and 2003.

In that vein, playing in the Celebrity Softball Game was "a little surreal" for Lorenzo, who brought his young son with him to Progressive Field to experience the fun.

"I never thought that I'd be able to give him the same experience I had as a kid growing up, because I never thought I'd make it to the All-Star Game. These are my childhood memories -- of my dad, going to the ballpark early, being part of three All-Star Games, which were our best experiences. Those are my best memories."

Trolling hubs?

There was a running joke on Twitter that circulated as soon as Turner Sports broadcaster Allie LaForce was named as a Celebrity Softball participant. But apparently, LaForce's husband, Astros pitcher Joe Smith, wasn't just the butt of the joke -- he may have been the first one to come up with it.

"He texted all of our friends and said, 'My wife made the All-Star team before me,'" LaForce said with a laugh.

LaForce played softball in high school, so she brought some experience to this Celebrity Softball Game. But she admitted to having some sort of block when it comes to tossing a baseball with her husband; for reasons unknown, she cannot make a straight throw to him.

"He calls it 'fetch' instead of 'catch' when we play," LaForce said.

‘Jobu’ returns

Eighteen-time World Wrestling Entertainment champ Mike "The Miz" Mizanin brought a recognizable prop to the Celebrity Softball Game -- a Jobu figurine, similar to the one that Pedro Cerrano kept in his locker in the hit movie “Major League,” which premiered in April of 1989 -- 30 years ago.

Mizanin, who was raised in nearby Parma, Ohio, figured bringing Jobu to the field with him would be an appropriate way to send some good karma toward his Cleveland softball team.

"As a child there was no bigger movie than 'Major League,'" he said. "And there was no bigger face than Jobu. Jobu's had his rum, Jobu has his cigar and he's ready to go. He's going to give us luck today. Cerrano can't hit a curveball, but Cerrano can hit a fastball."