Today, I attended the Larry Pogofsky Chicago All-Star Softball Challenge. I don't know much about Pogofsky other than he was one of the initial investors with Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn and he died a couple of years ago at the age of 64. What I do know is he can sure get some pretty cool ballplayers to participate in a softball game in his memory at Schaumburg Boomers stadium.
My brother bought my son a ticket to the youth clinic which happened before the game for his birthday. He was in a group of a half dozen kids and received hitting instruction from none other than the Big Hurt. At another station he was throwing pitches to Jamie Moyer. He took ground balls with one of the all time leaders in KenWar, Norberto "Paco" Martin. He got to field balls from Derek Lee. He received a bat for participating in the clinic and got autographs on it from Thomas, Carlos Lee, Moyer, Martin, Lee Smith, Chad Kreuter and Jeff Gray.
The game itself featured a White Sox lineup of :
Tony Phillips, LF
Ozzie Guillen, SS
Frank Thomas, 1B
Carlos Lee, RF
Brian Anderson, CF
James Baldwin, 2B
Norberto Martin, 3B
Chad Kreuter, C
Scott Eyre, P
MIke Huff, Right/Center
John Cangelosi, Left/Center
A couple of memorable things from the game are Tony Phillips and Brian Anderson can still cover some ground in the outfield as both made nice running catches. Paco Martin looks exactly the same as he did in 1993 and looks ready to suit up right now. Ozzie Guillen made a hell of a play up the middle. I have to say, I was impressed. Big Frank almost fell down on his first swing as he tried to jack it out of the park. In his next at bat Frank hit the wall in left center. Carlos Lee did fall down on his first swing. And it didn't get any better for him. He is taking retirement seriously and looks awfully big. Good for him. Brian Anderson struck out. In slow pitch softball. I yelled "some things never change, Anderson" and got some laughter from the crowd. In his other at bat he lined Frank Thomas, who was on second, in the shoulder. I don't care for Brian Anderson. Other than Thomas, Scott Eyre hit the ball the best for the White Sox.
On the Cubs side, Gary Matthews Jr. took one out of the park for the games only homer. It was a shot. That stadium is pretty big and Matthews cleared it with ease. Other than Thomas' shot off the wall, Matthews hit the next farthest as he blasted one off the warning track later in the game. Jon Lieber is a damn good softball player. Cliff Floyd can still rake. He almost killed C. Lee when he took over at first when the Big Hurt took the mound. He had his knee heavily bandaged up. If injuries didn't get the best of that guy he would have been one of the best hitters of the era. Billy Williams took an honorary at bat late in the game and recorded an infield hit (Bill Madlock ran for him, not that it was much of an advantage). Moyer was unhittable. He put on a softball pitching display with crazy arc and spins. The Sox fared a little better when Rainbow Trout was brought out there to pitch.
The Cubs won 11-4.
It was a pretty cool little event. It says it was the "first annual" game, so I am hoping they do it again next year. I will be there again for sure. If you like seeing some former Chicago players in a fun environment, you should too.