Ferrell wins Best Celebrity Fan, gets to do what he wants
He walked into the Oakland A's clubhouse around 8 a.m., passed a physical, strapped on the gear and prepared to leave it all out on the field.
Fourteen hours later, Will Ferrell, exhausted but flying high from an epic trip through the Cactus League, had completed what he set out to do -- play in five Spring Training games, field 10 positions and represent 10 teams, all in one day.
Ferrell's memorable day, which turned into a tongue-in-cheek one-hour HBO documentary aptly named "Ferrell Takes the Field," accomplished a few things: it turned the entire baseball world's eyes toward what would normally be a pretty uneventful Spring Training day in Arizona, it provided plenty of material for what turned out to be a very funny cable special, it raised heaps of cash for a worthy cause and, last but not least, it won Ferrell an Esurance MLB Award.
Yes, fans, meet this year's winner of the 2015 Best Celebrity Fan Award. Ferrell was one of 22 Esurance MLB Award winners unveiled on Friday -- four of which were revealed on MLB's social platforms throughout the day, and 18 during a live awards show on MLB Network, hosted by Brian Kenny and Dan Plesac.
There's no doubt Ferrell earned every bit of this award with blood, sweat ... well, maybe just sweat. Lots and lots of sweat.
Ferrell pitched. He caught. He fielded every position. And he even made contact at the plate, once, fouling a 92 mph fastball off Giants reliever Jean Machi (before striking out on the next pitch).
He coached third base. He bought hot dogs for an entire section. He even took the high road -- the very, very high road -- in order to get from one ballpark to another during a typical gridlocked rush hour afternoon in the desert. He did this by hitching a ride on a helicopter, which reminded us that, yes, he's kind of a big deal.
He replaced Mike Trout in center field. He tried to beat Mike Scioscia's inexplicable shift that moved all of the infielders to the area between first and second base, even though Ferrell bats right-handed. He argued with umpires, held up a sign to inform Welington Castillo that he's "sooooo handsome," and revealed to former A's legend Bert Campaneris during a heart-to-heart pregame chat, "I like Alfredo sauce."
Ferrell even hit 55-ish on the radar gun.
With everything he accomplished on that unforgettable day in Arizona, it's hard to pin the Best Celebrity Fan label on anyone else.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five components, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) voters.
Individual awards went to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: Best Everyday Player, Starting Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Breakout Player, Bounceback Player, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer.
Winners were also recognized for the year's Best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Celebrity Fan, Fan Catch, Interview, TV Call, Radio Call, Player-Fan Interaction, Video Board Moment and Trending Topic.
Winners of the Best Manager and Best Executive categories will be announced at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
All winners receive a Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) trophy.
Not lost in all the Ferrell hoopla was the fact that "Ferrell Takes the Field" was a hugely charitable undertaking. Ferrell waived all appearance fees he would normally receive for filming a movie and sent those proceeds to two charities: Stand Up to Cancer, one of Major League Baseball's main partners, and Cancer for College, a fund started by his fraternity brother at the University of Southern California that gives college scholarships to young people who have survived cancer.
In September, the Padres hosted a "Ferrell Takes the Field" movie premiere at PETCO Park, which Ferrell attended with his family. Ferrell hosted an on-field presentation during which he introduced about 20 recipients of Cancer for College scholarships, all of whom were showered with applause by about 35,000 fans who were there for the Padres-Dodgers game and the movie premiere.
Ferrell may have taken the field, but he gave back much, much more.