Bill Self, in addition to being a very good college basketball coach, was also, at least in his own appraisal, a local softball legend in Stillwater, Okla. Last week, Self announced he would be playing in Sunday night's MLB All-Star Celebrity Game in Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, and he told the media he "had a big-time team" in Stillwater, that "seven, eight years after graduation, we pretty much ran that city league down there."
While the natural Chicagoan in me requires me to challenge Self to some 16-inch play -- I don't, but the friends who do are all former high school baseball players, and they're really good -- we'd have evidence enough of Self's softball ability Sunday night.
So ... how did Self acquit himself? Quite well, actually! In fact, he hit a home run off Olympic softball pitcher Jennie Finch. From the Lawrence Journal-World:
“I was surprised as anybody hitting a home run,” Self said. “I don’t know if anybody actually swung and missed the whole night. I was worried I’d do it three times. To actually put the bat on the ball was pretty cool.”
In the fourth inning, Self hit a screaming foul ball down the left-field line, then grounded out to third, holding his right hamstring — which he pulled Saturday in preparing for the game — as he jogged down the baseline.
In the sixth inning, Self made it a 2-for-3 night at the plate by stroking a hard single to left field. He was immediately replaced by a pinch runner.
“I was nervous because I couldn’t run to first,” Self said, explaining how he hurt his hammy.
This night had its other bonuses, too. Self laughingly acknowledged the injury hugs he received from model Chrissy Teigen and Finch. There was also, of course, the presence of both Missouri and Kansas fans, even if the Missouri fans in Kauffman were far more vocal.
Anyway, Self hit a home run off Finch. Pretty cool, right? Obviously he has some skills. Sure, it's slow-pitch softball, but it's not like just anybody can hit a home run off of ... hey, wait a second:
Self, who hadn’t played softball in 20 years until last week when he visited the batting cages twice at Clinton Lake Softball Complex, was mobbed at home plate by his teammates. His homer was preceded by a Mike Sweeney dinger and was followed by a round-tripper from singer David Cook.
This guy?! The guy from American Idol? This guy hit a home run, too? OK then. Nevermind.