There was Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg turning a tailor-made double play in 2008 in New York. There was Tim Salmon hitting postgame homers off Jennie Finch in Anaheim last year. And who could forget U.S. Olympic gymnastics gold-medalist Shawn Johnson doing front-flips down the first-base line in St. Louis in 2009. Or just seeing legends such as Rickey Henderson, Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Dave Winfield and Ozzie Smith on the field again?
Now it is time to set the roster for the 2011 Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, an All-Star Sunday fixture. It will be played after the XM All-Star Futures Game on July 10 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The game will be televised in HD by ESPN the next day, immediately following the State Farm Home Run Derby at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET on July 11. The game also will be available on ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV.
The first half of the roster for the star-studded showcase was announced Tuesday by Major League Baseball, and it is stacked with talent from music, television and sports. The second half of the roster will be announced later this week.
Already set for the game are country music performer Jason Aldean, pop artist Nick Jonas, American Idol winner and Arizona native Jordin Sparks, Glee sensation Chord Overstreet, Tim DeKay from White Collar, Jesse Williams from Grey's Anatomy, MLB Fan Cave designer Paul Dimeo from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Tom Papa from The Marriage Ref, Arizona Cardinals five-time Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald and Finch, a University of Arizona alum.
"I love All-Star, I love being around baseball, it's a great couple of days and I'm excited," said Finch, who last year became the first woman to homer in the event. "I'm honored to represent softball at the All-Star Game."
Past MLB stars also are scheduled to participate, including former D-backs Luis Gonzalez and Mark Grace; former MLB All-Stars Fred Lynn, Mike Piazza, Steve Garvey and Bernie Williams and Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fingers, Gossage, Henderson and Smith. Henderson's home run trot last year was worth the price of admission alone.
"You've got to be tenacious out there," deadpanned Piazza, a 12-time All-Star selection who is biding his time until consideration for the Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
Tickets for the five-inning game are available now at AllStarGame.com and the D-backs box office. Go here for more information on All-Star Sunday.
"Major League Baseball has done a fabulous job in expanding the context of the All-Star Game," Garvey said. "From the beginning of FanFest to the Futures Game to the Legends & Celebrities Game and of course the Home Run Derby that's so popular and then the game itself -- nobody does it better than Major League Baseball. It's a celebration of our national pastime, and for those of us who were blessed to play the game, it's a time to honor and to give tribute to the best game in the world, really."
It is a game that entertains you. In 2008, Chris Rock set the Legends & Celebrities Softball Game all-time record by striking out more than once in a game, then he made up for it by fielding a grounder and flipping backhand to Ozzie Smith covering second for a force to end an inning. "Ozzie Smith made it to the Hall of Fame not getting hits, so why not me?" Rock said at the time.
During that game, played in a different Yankee Stadium but the same town where the Pine Tar Incident had happened a quarter-century before, someone handed George Brett a pine tar rag. He slathered it all over the barrel of his bat.
"There isn't any pressure," Bo Jackson said after playing in the event last year. "This is for the fans. This is very fun-oriented, to where we just want to come out to perform and entertain the fans."