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Heath Evans Charity Softball Showdown: The View from Section 221

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You didn't think I was gonna miss this, did you?

To be honest, it was a last minute decision I made at work yesterday. I actually wasn't planning on going but it was such a gorgeous April day in New Orleans, I figured it would be a shame not to. Then was surprised when I hit traffic on David Dr. backed up all the way from Zephyr Field. Everyone else must have had the same idea. I don't know why I thought I would be the only one interested in going to something like this.  

Once we arrived at the stadium it was smooth sailing. Five bucks for parking (that better be going to charity!) with a short walk to the box office. The line to purchase tickets was incredibly shorter than the Will Call line to pick up tickets already purchased on the internet. See kids, laziness and lack of planning does pay off. The woman in front of us picking up corporate tickets was not a happy camper when she finally got to the window, only to realize she was in the wrong line and needed to get in the other, longer line. Another gentleman who had made the same mistake was contemplating the purchase of brand new tickets just to avoid having to switch lines. Hey, it's for charity! Anyway, ten bucks each and we were in. 

I've always liked Zephyr Field because of its incredible intimacy. It takes me out of the New Orleans bubble and makes me feel like I'm at a high school baseball game in small town rural Iowa with it's modest concessions and simple seating arrangements. This is all greatly magnified, however, by my strong familiarity with football stadiums and the stark difference between the spectacle that is an NFL game and any event that would ever be held at Zephyr Field. Both have their niceties.

As far as the game and event itself, everything went well. There was a laid back feel, both on the field among players and in the crowd. I've got to admit, though, that it was weird going through the familiar motions of buying a ticket, sitting in a stadium and seeing those well-known faces in black and gold on the sideline except they're playing baseball. But the fact that they're all natural athletes actually made the game competitive and entertaining. At the end of the day I was glad I went and I'm sure the players felt the same. And the best part of it all: It's for a good cause. 

For more information about the Heath Evans Foundation, check out his official website and become a fan on Facebook. 

I've got a few more notes in bullet form after the jump followed by the usual bevy of pictures. 

Here is your unofficial starting lineup (substitutes):

P - Heath Evans (Tim Duckworth)

C - Anthony Hargrove 

1B - David Thomas 

2B - Jonathan Vilma (Jonathan Goodwin)

3B - Pierre Thomas

SS - Drew Brees (Chase Daniel)

OF - Jeremy Shockey, Courtney Roby, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Randall Gay (Pierson Prioleau, Usama Young, Lance Moore, Chris Reis, Garrett Hartley)

  • We arrived late but there was a home run hitting contest before the game. Apparently Drew was cranking them out of the park batting both left-handed and right-handed and took the crown. What can't this guy do? With two men on base early in the game, Brees sailed a homerun over the right field wall. 
  • As I said earlier, I was very surprised by the great turnout. 
  • Jerry Romig, the familiar in-stadium voice of the Saints was fittingly hired to announce the softball game. After Heath Evans, Anthony Hargrove and Drew Brees nearly collide going for an infield pop fly, Romig uses the power of the stadiums PA system to warn Brees, "Drew, please be careful. Be careful, Drew."  
  • The joke of the evening was made by Heath Evans during his pre-game speech when he encouraged cheating by saying, "I played for Bill Belichick for four years. I know how to cheat." 
  • Some players like Heath Evans and Carl Nicks had Lance Moore and Rod Harper pinch running for them.
  • Vilma missed an easy pop fly in left field and was booed in joking fashion.
  • Heath and his wife came out in the middle of the field to thank everyone for coming out and to talk about his foundation and the importance of stopping child abuse.
  • Between innings, players were allowed to use the cool t-shirt gun and shoot shirts into the crowd. 
  • Chase Daniel cranked the hell out of a pitch and sent a homerun sailing over left center field. Impressive.
  • Tyler Lorenzen also surprised me with a big homerun shot.
  • Fred McAfee was the on-field MC for the evening. Some of his jokes and playful ribbing were just random. For example, when teasing the host of the event while on the mound, McAfee brilliantly came up with, "Heath. Rhymes with teeth." What!? No, I'm not making that up or taking it out of context. There is no context. It was that random. Fred also completed a brief interview with Gumbo. In case you didn't know, Gumbo doesn't speak. 
  • While playing catcher, Hargrove made a bet with the military batter that if he hit a homerun, Anthony would kiss him. Dude hit a homerun. Hargrove is a man of his word. A very romantic moment followed shortly thereafter. 
  • The game had a couple of lead changes but the military pulled ahead when it counted, winning the game by a final score of 18-17. 


Nice night for a softball game. 



The players hanging around during the homerun derby. 



Heath doing some press. 



Player introductions. 



Your New Orleans Saints softball team. 



Shot of the crowd. 



National Anthem. 



The Saints practice facility in the distance next door. 



Gumbo is everywhere. 



Drew giving everyone a high-five. 



Drew ripping a three run shot. Looks just like his hero, Ted Williams. 



Rounding the bases.



Coming home. 



Celebrating with teammates. 



Hartley using the t-shirt gun. He sucked at it. 



Vilma letting one fly. 



These were all around the concourse. 



Night falls on Metairie. 


And here is all the rest of your Heath Evans Charity Softball Showdown coverage:

Drew Brees Wins Home Run Derby


 Military all-stars edge New Orleans Saints 18-17 in Heath Evans' charity softball game - Times-Pic

 New Orleans Saints photo gallery: Heath Evans' charity softball game  - Times-Pic

 New Orleans Saints photo of the day: Jeremy Shockey crashes through fence - Times-Pic

 Drew Brees wins home run derby at Heath Evans' charity softball event  - Times-Pic