Joe Kocur Foundation Charity Softball Series 2013


After Game #2. Photo credit to Christina Roberts (aka me)

Saturday August 24 marked the fifth annual Charity Softball Series for the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children. This was my third year attending and this was, by far, the best one yet.

Every year, my friend and I make it a point to drive all the way out to Highland to take in the first few softball games of the day and tend to leave before the big “Celebrity vs. Celebrity” game that starts at 5pm. She is the biggest Manny Legace fan in the world, hands down, and we always go to chat with him, get our annual picture, browse through the silent auction items, watch a little bit of softball, laugh at all the alumni who really get into the game, marvel at Darren McCarty playing softball in a kilt, and head home.

This year, the event was more packed than usual. We arrived a little after one in the afternoon, just as the second softball game was starting, a handful of celebrities against the firefighters of White Lake. They had some local radio celebrities doing play-by-play commentary for the game. Some of the celebrities playing in the second game include Darren Pang as pitcher, Jason Woolley, Chris Osgood, Manny Legace, Eddie Mio, and John Ogrodnick.

Many a short joke was aimed at Darren Pang. Dave Coulier walked past us at one point as we watched the game. Silent auction items included a lot of autograph memorabilia from the Detroit Red Wings, Tigers, and Lions. There was a table set up for autograph sessions that took place during different parts of the day, including Osgood, McCarty, and Ted Lindsay.

With Manny Legace. Photo credit to Christina Roberts (aka me)

When the second softball game ended, my friend and I found Legace before he slipped away to the “VIP section.” He remembered her from last year and chatted with us for a few minutes while we got our pictures with him and thanked him for his time.

Osgood was still out on the field, surrounded by a handful of people who were chatting and taking pictures with him. Unable to help myself, I led the charge out onto the field. Now, for all the autographs I have, I’m not one of those fans that collects signatures. I would much rather have a picture with the player. That was all I wanted from Ozzie.

Unfortunately, people followed me onto the field and the “security” told us the line for his autograph session had already started and we should go get in line instead.

The line was fairly long and followed the fence all the way back to the “VIP section” where people were crowding to get autographs over the fence from guys like Kirk Maltby and Dino Ciccarelli.

With Jiri Fischer. Photo credit to Christina Roberts (aka me)

And then I noticed the guy on the other side of the fence signing things was Jiri Fischer, who I love. And no one was really noticing him aside from the two guys getting stuff signed in front of us. When they were done, I said, “Hey! Could I get a picture through the fence?”

“Sure,” he said. “I’ll hang over the top.” And that guy is tall.

It took maybe forty minutes to get to the front of the line where Ozzie was signing autographs. I had him sign a puck (because why not?) and took a picture with him.

In all my time as a Red Wings fan, I have had the great fortune to meet many of the Red Wings players. From Season Ticket Holder Open Houses at Joe Louis Arena to the Toast of Hockeytown in 2011, I’ve met every player I’ve wanted to meet except Chris Osgood. And Ozzie is one of my favorite players.

He asked me what color sharpie I wanted my puck signed in. “Silver?”

“Yeah. I don’t think anything else would show up,” I said.

“That is an outstanding point,” he said, laughing. I thanked him, got my picture, and walked away, absolutely elated.

My friend and I only hung around for a few more minutes after that. The third softball game was under way, and the play-by-play was being called by Darren Pang and Mickey Redmond, which, by the thirty seconds I heard of it, was hilarious.

If you live in the Metro Detroit area and are looking for something to do around this time next year, take a look at this event. For a $15 ticket, you can get up close to some awesome hockey players, and all the proceeds from ticket sales as well as purchases at the event go to charity.

It’s an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon in August.

Tags: Charity Joe Kocur NHL