A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to take a trip to Phoenix, Arizona to take part in State Farm Goes To Bat. It was an amazing once in a lifetime trip. I met many great people, had an awesome time and even helped raise $5,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Phoenix.
Thanks to State Farm, me and a few other writers were flown to the desert to take part in a charity home run derby with Cal Ripken Jr. We also got to attend the All-Star Fanfest and the State Farm Home Run Derby.
I flew in on July 10th and got settled at the Sheraton Phoenix downtown. I met the rest of the writers and other members of our group in the lobby that evening and we went to former Phoenix Suns legend “Thunder” Dan Majerle’s restaurant a few blocks away. The picture below is me (very Shrek like) with the other writers Danielle Smith of extraordinarymommy.com, Carlo Garcia of livingphilanthropic.com and the famous Zack Hample from Zackhample.com among other sites. Danielle’s children Delaney and Cooper are the little ones.
On Monday the 11th, I woke up around 8:30 am PST and headed down to the lobby to meet the group to head over to the MLB Fanfest to take part in a charity media home run derby for State Farm Goes To Bat.
We bypassed the line and headed into a VIP entrance a half hour before the public was admitted. We were early so we walked around the Fanfest for a bit while we waited for Cal Ripken Jr. to arrive.
Ripken arrived shortly after and to my surprise Mandy Moore was still there. She was also there for State Farm and some of our group had interviewed her earlier and I was under the impression that she had already left. You may recognize an orange clad photographer in the background.
Before the media derby, children from the Phoenix Boys and Girls club took part in a hitting clinic with Ripken and instructors from Ripken Baseball. Ripken taught the kids and onlookers the basics of hitting. He was very generous with his time and spent time teaching every child one on one.
After the hitting clinic, our group and local media members from Phoenix took part in a home run derby. I was under the impression that Ripken would just be giving us hitting tips, but he actually pitched to us. Having a Hall of Famer pitch to me was both thrilling and nerve racking. Since I was by far the tallest of any of the media members I had to bat last. Waiting for my turn was like torture. I even hit after the Pittsburgh Pirates mascot. He hit a home run on one pitch and walked off triumphantly. Talk about a hard act to follow. I made sure to get my picture taken with Ripken before I batted.
He tossed me around 30-40 balls and I actually hit a lot better than I thought I would. I even hit three home runs (even though the wall was only 100 feet away) and multiple singles, doubles and triples. Not too shabby for a lacrosse player who hasn’t played organized baseball since he was 8 years old.
Here’s a video of me hitting against Ripken (made by State Farm):
Here’s a picture of Ripken and Moore posing with the kids during the clinic. All the children and media members had a blast and I still can’t believe that I got a chance to take part in this event.
*After the charity derby, I got a chance to interview Ripken for a few minutes. Look for that interview in the first week of August on TheFatherLife.com.
Later that day, we went to the State Farm Home Run Derby at Chase Field. Sadly, the Yanks Robinson Cano Defeated Adrian Gonzalez of my beloved Red Sox in the final round by the score of 12-11. Zack Hample even caught one of Cano’s yackers in the final round.
Here’s a pretty sweet picture I took at the derby. Prior to this I didn’t know I could take panoramic pictures with my cell phone.
I want to thank the people at State Farm including Griffin Hammond who took many pictures and created the videos of all of us hitting in the charity derby. I also want to thank Heather Cmiel and Leslie Hopp from Weber Shandwick who planned this whole trip and put up with all of us for a few days.
I was invited to the State Farm® Home Run Derby and Go to Bat kick-off programs by State Farm. All my travel, food, and lodging expenses were taken care of by State Farm. I was not paid to write this post.