There hasn’t been much joy at McCoy Stadium this year. The Pawtucket Red Sox have the worst record in the International League. They’ve lost eight in a row. They’ve won only six of their last thirty-nine games. And then there is all that talk about moving the team out of the city. It has been a tough year all around for Pawtucket.
But Monday gave fans at McCoy Stadium a reason to laugh and smile, at least for one day. Singer and Rhode Island native Jeffrey Osbourne brought together some of his friends for the second annual Celebrity Softball Classic. While Osbourne may have been the host, the main attraction was basketball Hall of Famer, Magic Johnson.
Magic Johnson held court as he pitched all six innings for his “West” team and also hit leadoff. The game was slowed down several times as players, coaches, and umpires took time to take selfies with the six-foot-nine legend. There was even a halt in play as both teams joined Magic Johnson on the mound as a birthday cake was wheeled out. Johnson will celebrate his 56th birthday on Friday and the crowd at McCoy joined in with the celebrities in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Other celebrities that participated in the game included comedians Chris Tucker, Cedric the Entertainer, former Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, singer Ronnie DeVoe, Providence College basketball coach Ed Cooley, ESPN announcers Jay Harris and Doris Burke, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and former Patriots players Ty Law, Roland James, Sammy Morris, and Jermaine Wiggins.
Wiggins was the star of the game as he hit home runs in each of his three at-bats. His last two times up he chided the defense to have a seat or take a knee because he knew he was going to hit the ball over the fence. He also fielded a smooth third base. The Red Sox may need to give him a call.
The result of the game wasn’t important. It was all about having fun. It didn’t matter that Magic’s celebrity team lost by a score of 19-4 to a ragtag “East” team made up of local Rhode Island celebrities (mostly former Patriots, employees from WJAR-TV, and local business owners).
It would have been nice if some of the players were mic’d up for the crowd to hear. Magic Johnson and Chris Tucker would have been perfect candidates. It was obvious Johnson was in a chipper mood and was interacting with several players. It was unfortunate the crowd didn’t get to hear what was being said as Johnson seemed to be having a very good time. In fact, at no point did the crowd hear Johnson’s voice. No postgame interview. No “thank you” to the crowd. A perfect opportunity to allow Johnson to speak would have been during the birthday cake presentation.
It was also a bit disappointing that not all the celebrities listed in the marketing for the game were present. Notable absences included Sinbad, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Steve Grogan, Smokey Robinson, George Lopez, and Bobby Farrelly.
But, in the end, a good time was had by all. All the proceeds go to local charities.