Big Slick celebrity softball always a huge hit

Seventh annual weekend at The K raises money for Children's Mercy Hospital

Big Slick celebrity softball always a huge hit

KANSAS CITY -- As the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend began with the Star-Spangled Softball Game on Friday, a host of Royals players gathered in the dugout to watch the actors, singers and athletes take the field at Kauffman Stadium. The pregame affair also drew a few thousand fans to their seats early.

And those fans weren't just the ones in the stands.

"I'm a big movie buff, so I'm a huge fan of all these guys," Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield said. "I'm definitely going to take a picture or two."

Earlier in the day, actor and co-host of the event Paul Rudd joked the celebrity game would be the day's big event, with the Tigers-Royals game that evening serving as an add-on. The teams certainly did their part to entertain. Singer David Cook hit a two-run inside the park homer while dawning a Chewbacca mask. Actor Jason Sudeikis moonwalked across home plate to score a run later in the third inning.

But for the most part, the softball game took a backseat.

"You're going to see a lot of emotions this weekend," actor Rob Riggle said. "I'll probably cry five or six times."

The reason for those emotions is the whole purpose of the weekend. The group of celebrities gathered as part of the seventh annual Big Slick Celebrity Weekend to raise money for the Cancer Center at Children's Mercy Hospital.

The event was started as a charity poker tournament and party back in 2010 by the three Kansas City natives: Riggle, Rudd and Sudeikis, who have since been joined by Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet and Anchorman's David Koechner as co-hosts.

"As you all know we're all from this area," Koechner said. "It's such a wonderful, special event to come back to."

The event has raised more than $3.25 million, which has helped the non-profit hospital in a number of areas: exploring the benefits of genomics and personalized medicine in cancer treatment, expanding its Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and family rooms and purchasing more than $500,000 in advanced early detection equipment.

This year, much of that money will be brought in between a bowling event, a public auction and gear sold online. But more than just money, there's also time for the celebrities to do what they said is the most meaningful part of the weekend: meet with patients and families at the Children's Mercy Cancer Center.

"What ends up sticking with you is ... the time with families and the time with the kids," Sudeikis said.

As for the game itself, Rudd's Blue Team scored an 8-6 win over the White Team in the four-inning slugfest that culminated in a benches-clearing 'brawl.' But as the celebrities agreed, that's not what they'll remember most.

Sudeikis said he'll remember all the moments he has with the children and families, both in person and across social media throughout the year. The others agreed, while Rudd noted it's hard to come up with just one thing from the event that stands alone.

"To be able to have a connection, a personal connection with the people that are here ... is amazing," Rudd said. "As far as one that sticks out, there's just too many to count."

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.