Clemson Celebrity Softball? This needs to happen every year


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Woody Dantler evades the tag of Patrick Sapp
Woody Dantler evades the tag of Patrick Sapp

Clemson Celebrity Softball? This needs to be a regular occurrence.

Following this week’s Greenville Clemson Club Prowl and Growl Presented by Nationwide at Greenville’s Fluor Field a Clemson celebrity softball game was held, and what it lacked in spine-tingling performances it more than made up for in fellowship, laughs, and a glimpse into what makes Clemson so special.

Head football coach Dabo Swinney – more than a little miffed because he wasn’t asked to play – grabbed a glove and warmed up with WYFF sports anchor Brad Fralick. Baseball coach Monte Lee and head basketball coach Brad Brownell could only look on and shake their heads.

During Thursday’s media availability with Lee, I mentioned the softball game and he admitted he wouldn’t mind playing as well (and he would be the on-site hitting coach to boot). Former Clemson player and current coach Ben Paulsen – who played in the game Wednesday – talked about the lack of pitching in the contest (throwing no shade at DeAndre McDaniel’s mound prowess I am sure).

During Wednesday’s game, there were some notable sights: Former offensive linemen Jay Guillermo and Eric Mac Lain, the two biggest humans present, each played first base for their respective teams. Former cornerback Chris “PT” Chancellor, who now works for the City of Clemson as a police officer, had “Bad Boys” as his walk-up music as a nod to the TV show “Cops.”

It was worth waiting around just to see former Tiger quarterback Woody Dantzler run the bases. Dantzler looks like he could step on the field and play right now, and he went first to third in the blink of an eye, drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd and the photographer (me.)

Clemson alum and current Greenville Drive General Manager Eric Jarinko was the only casualty from the night, breaking his thumb in the first inning. We all originally thought it was just out of place and I offered to put it back in place for him, but he politely declined. Good move.

In the meantime, it was an absolute blast listening to guys like McDaniel and Jonathan Meeks and Rashard Hall and Robert Smith (who can play, by the way. Smith almost hit a softball out of Fluor Field) talk smack to each other. Everyone enjoyed catching up and as we started to leave, I told Nikki that being around such a great group of people is what makes Clemson so special.

Then I had an idea, which is sometimes dangerous.

For years I played softball, traveling to tournaments across the country every weekend and playing three or four nights in the area. I love to play, love the competition and loved the feeling of being a part of a team. I have more stories than I could ever tell, and I am sure Nikki is tired of listening to them.

But….back in the day, when I was working for the Greenville News, an area event was the Days of Our Lives softball game at the old Greenville Braves stadium. As a member of the media and a fair player, I was asked to play in the game on a few occasions and always had a blast. Hey, who doesn’t like getting a kiss in the dugout from a pretty girl?

DeAndre McDaniel reacts after a strikeout

Thus came the idea. What if Clemson made this a regular thing? Swinney obviously wants to play and I’m sure Lee could be talked into playing. Add some other competitive coaches, like Brent Venables, and you have the makings of something special.

Call in other coaches from around campus and other former players (Woody Dantzler and Robert Smith are each worth the price of admission) and host the event in Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Each year, there could be a different celebrity guest (Kirk Herbstreit or Deshaun Watson) and invite people to tailgate and have an afternoon watching a fun competition.

The best part is that all of the proceeds could go to IPTAY or Swinney’s All In Foundation, so it’s a win-win for everybody.

Clemson Celebrity Softball. This needs to happen.

Bubba Britton, the Associate Executive Director for Engagement for the Clemson Alumni Association, said the event is already being used to give back to the university.

"All props to the Greenville Clemson Club and Patrick Sapp who made this happen," Britton said. "The Greenville CLemson Club uses events like this to support Clemson in MANY ways. They are finishing up a $25K gift to Basketball and have committed $75K to the Cadden Chapel and the Snow Center. GCC is one of almost 80 amazing Clemson University Alumni Association Clubs and Groups doing great things for Clemson."

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