PHOENIX -- Charles Thomas has had an eventful few days. He was crowned champion of the Justin Duchscherer-Rich Harden Video Game Challenge on Sunday night. That was two days after an even more significant event: the birth of his daughter, Jyden Rose. Thomas led Oakland's domination of the video game event at Gordon Biersch in Tempe, held to raise funds for the Arizona chapter of the Multiple Scoliosis Society. Members of the A's and San Francisco Giants, which included Brad Hennessey and Todd Linden, dueled in tournament-style action.
Thomas, who lost to eventual champion Lance Niekro of the Giants in the first round of last year's inaugural event, came back to beat A's teammate Esteban Loaiza, 13-12, on a last-second home run. "It came down to the wire," Thomas said. "It's more fun when it's like that. I think most of the games all night were close." In addition to being for a good cause, Thomas said the event also promotes goodwill between the Bay Area rivals. "It switches things up," he said. "You hang with guys who you play against. You see them in a different way." The format was a home run derby, with players able to choose anyone in the Major Leagues. Thomas went with his good friend Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves. Loaiza used Alfonso Soriano. "It was tied at 12 with a second left," Loaiza said. "Just as he hit, my pitcher was in the windup and then the [timed] game stopped. At least I hit one 532 feet. I don't think [Thomas] got over 350."
With "Extra Innings" host Robert Baum serving as emcee, the event drew a good crowd of fans."It's fun," said Harden, who bowed out in the first round using Ryan Howard. "You can do all the practicing you want, but it's different once you get up to the big screen. I was impressed that pretty much all of the A's showed up. It was a good turnout." Baum, who nearly didn't get the chance to reprise his role as host, drew rave reviews, too. "We definitely wanted him to be a part of this," Harden said. "The fans know him, he's a good guy and good at what he does." Anyone interested in getting involved can still do so through the Web site. Back at the camp: Shortstop Bobby Crosby is one step closer to playing in his first spring game after participating in a simulated game on the back field at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.