BY Art Thiel 05:33PM 07/19/2015

Thiel: A day at the Sherman softball party

Seahawks cornerback’s third annual charity fundraiser was a fun day at the yard, where Kevin Durant showed no skill at softball and Russell Wilson did, undoubtedly improving his position in contract talks.

Matt Barnes of the LA Clippers was the MVP, while Zach LaVine (7) drove in the Marshawn Lynch (background) with the winning run. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

Three crucially important takeaways from the third annual Richard Sherman Celebrity Softball Game Sunday at Safeco Field:

  • Kevin Durant is to baseball as Danny DeVito is to basketball.
  • CB Brandon Browner (Saints) said his Super Bowl ring from New England is bigger, but his Seahawks Super Bowl ring has more diamonds, deftly sidestepping a wound dangerous to open in the greater Seattle area.
  • Boxing champ Floyd Mayweather didn’t show up as promised, relieving Sherman of an awkward explanation for benefiting from a serial clobberer of women (men, too, but that’s sanctioned by society).

As for Sherman, he was a lot more animated and enthusiastic than when he was last seen publicly: In the audience at the ESPYs awards Wednesday in Los Angeles, staring at Caitlyn Jenner during her speech as if she was a dog reading poetry.

Sunday, Sherman drew a good crowd of athletes and celebs, who in turn drew a good crowd of 20,000-plus willing to pay $30 to $60 to attend the frivolities in a hot sun that benefit the Blanket Coverage event for the Sherman Family Foundation.

Last year his foundation said it donated $62,500 in $2,500 increments to 25 different nonprofits, as well as hundreds of backpacks and school supplies to middle-school students around the state, including victims of the Carlton Complex fire in eastern Washington.

“Lots of cool guys came here to help my foundation and charity,” Sherman said pre-game. “It’s always an honor to have these guys here; we’re trying to help kids academically and try to give them a chance to succeed later in life.”

One of the coolest guys came the latest — Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ ever-dramatic running back made his only appearance in the bottom of the seventh and final inning as a pinch runner at third base for the Green team.

Moments later, he sauntered home with the winning score after Zach LaVine, the former Bothell High School star who’s a two-time NBA dunk contest champion with the Minnesota Timberwolves, showed he hasn’t lost his touch for exhibition-grade drama.

His single to right produced the walk-off score in a 16-15 win against the stacked Blue team.

“I felt the pressure,” LaVine said, smiling. “Glad I could bring in the hometown hero.”

Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers, a 6-7 forward and a 12-year NBA vet who’s been around so long he can remember when Seattle had the Sonics, was named game MVP — something Durant can only fantasize about.

As one of the most unusually skilled seven-footers in NBA history, Durant, it turns out, has no eye-hand softball coordination. The former Sonic was helpless at bat and in the field, where he misjudged an easy fly ball as he stood beneath it. Amazing.

The counterpoint, to little surprise, was Russell Wilson, who insists he’s a good baseball player besides his weekend duty as Seahawks QB.

The truth of that is not known, but he can hit a softball, for whatever that’s worth to his negotiation for a contract extension:

“Hey, John Schneider: I won the home-run derby at Richard’s softball game. Pay up.”

But it was the way he won it that intrigued.

Wilson advanced to the second round, and on his last try of the round, sent a line drive down the left field line that fell against the low softball fence at the 300-foot mark.

A yard short of a home run.

Can’t make this stuff up.

But in the third and final round against old teammate Browner, Wilson rallied with a shot that not only made it over the softball fence, it cleared the real baseball wall into Edgar’s Cantina, at least a 340-footer.

For fans who seek omens for the Seahawks 2015 season and its pursuit of The Lost Yard, Wilson offered a sign spooky and eloquent.

Hey, it was better than an oblique tweet from the Bible.



  • notaboomer

    the celebs should play local media in this game.

    • art thiel

      As long as I can pitch to Durant, I’ll play. I’ll put up Felix numbers.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Good effort for a good cause. Although that figure of $62,000 donated back to non-profits last year cannot be right. Based on stated ticket prices for the game it looks like the event may have netted close to a million, especially with personal donations from players. If last year’s game did as well at the turnstiles that would then be about 6% back to charity. And throwing in Richard’s $10 million yearly salary that would be roughly 0.6% which travels from Richard through the foundation on to non-profits. My assumption is there is a lot more going on and a good deal more money distributed, apart from the $62k, backpacks and school supplies.

    • art thiel

      That’s the info provided on the website for the second year. In this third year, Sherman had many more corporate sponsors that should have paid for a lot of the event expenses, leading to a greater distribution of proceeds.

  • John M

    “A dog reading poetry.” Art, you outdo yourself. I watched part of the game and thought it was a fun time by all. Baldwin went about biz in his usual high octane fashion, but got greedy about how many bases he could arrive at ahead of the ball.

    As for R. Wilson, after reading the piece in the Sunday Times I’m beginning to have doubts about his long term future as a Seahawk. First, it sounds like Rodgers is pushing for Wilson to test free agency, seemingly unconcerned that Football has a salary cap and most of the players that do that – after being offered good value for their services from a team that thought enough of them to draft, train and bring them along so they became a respected NFL player, usually end up bouncing to 2-3 teams in 2-3 years and then bounce out completely. Wilson went on about how he thought of Rodgers as family, trusted him more than anyone, etc., etc. Nothing was said about his feeling for his present team. Another point is that with the addition of Ciara into his aura, he’s become a full-fledged media darling. And he’s loving it. Right now, looks like it could be this year, next year with a franchise tag and so-long

    • art thiel

      Rodgers and Wilson have to create the impression of independent contractors to put public pressure on the Seahawks. It’s about the only leverage they have. The rules of the 2011 CBA with he union heavily favors ownership. Rodgers knows football players, relative to other sports, have almost no leverage because free agency is beyond the career span of 80 percent of the players.

      Wilson is the rare guy who had big success early, meaning that if he plays well in 2015-16, he will get to FA at 28 in his prime. He’ll kill it in the marketplace.

      BTW, full credit to my pal Steve Rudman for “dog reading poetry.”

      • John M

        Thanks, Art. OK, I understand a little better and it still looks like 2 more and gone. I guess if they draft a QB next April we’ll know for sure. So much for Wilson’s words that this is his dream team to be with forever . . .

        • eYeDEF

          You’re getting way ahead of yourself. Like Art said, this is all public posturing. You’re treating it like it offers you special insight.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    One of the best ball carriers this century as a pinch runner. I like it.
    Too bad he doesn’t own the winning score in that other game that was played on ground hog day last February.

    • art thiel

      Whether it’s one yard or 60 feet, who ya gonna call?