The White Sox topped the Blue Sox 5-3 in the 16th edition of Dirk Nowitkzi's Heroes Celebrity Baseball game in front of a sold out crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Nowitzki took the torch from Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano six years ago for this event, which to datehas raised over $4 million to help improve the lives of Dallas-area kids. The game benefits the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation.
“It's my sixth year and it's been basically growing every year,” Nowitzki said. “Thanks to the fans for showing up and the celebs, locally and some are flying in every year to be here and support and it means a lot. I say it every year, but we don't take it for granted.”
This year's game brought big-name local celebrities including Dallas Cowboys players Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith and Darren McFadden, Mavs players Yogi Ferrell, Devin Harris, Seth Curry and head coach Rick Carlisle, former Rangers infielder Michael Young, former Stars goalie Marty Turco and 2003 U.S. Open champion tennis player Andy Roddick.
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Why do all these big names show up to play baseball in DFW in June?
“Dirk Nowitzki, simple as that,” Prescott said. “Everything he's done for his career and for the city of Dallas, it's humbling and it's about following guys like that.”
The evening got underway with retired Dallas Police Chief David Brown throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, to a huge standing ovation.
The Heroes game is traditionally a high-scoring affair, but this year's game played out like a pitcher's duel until the White Sox and Dak Prescott got things going in the bottom of the eighth inning with a double over the head of left fielder Dez Bryant to knock in Michael Young. Prescott was literally held at second base, as Blue Sox infielder Ezekiel Elliott playfully grabbed hold of his Cowboys teammate.
“I saw Michael Young on second base, so I had no choice but to drive him home, right?” Prescott said. “I think the umpire might have helped me out a little bit, but I finally got a hold of one and drove him in and got this thing going.”
The rally ended with a controversial third out at home plate when it appeared that Brain Cardinal slid in past the tag, but was called out by the same umpire that Dak said helped him out.
After the White Sox held on to win, Roddick was named the game's MVP on the strength of two key hits.
“We're athletes too,” Roddick proudly proclaimed as he held up the MVP trophy. “You can do anything you set your mind to!”
Over its 16 years, this game has grown into one of the bigger events on the DFW sports calendar and one has to wonder who will take the baton from Nowtizki once his time of hosting the game is over. After this year's event, it was apparent that if he is interested, Prescott would be the ideal choice.
As for Nowitzki's charitable work in the community, his second annual Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic will take place in September at SMU's tennis center.
For further information, visit dnfoundation.org.
Follow Jay Betsill on Twitter at twitter.com/thefamousjay