With one swing of the bat, and a comment that brought the world’s biggest smile to the face of Kansas City native Paul Rudd, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes further endeared himself to a whole new fan base.
And caught in the middle of everything was a Blue Springs South High School graduate who won a little competition called American Idol a few years back.
The 10th annual Big Slick softball game, which benefits Children’s Mercy Hospital, featured Rudd, Jason Sudeikis and Rob Riggle, the originators of the event, along with other Kansas City icons David Koechner and Eric Stonestreet.
The event, which began on the Little K in right field at Kauffman Stadium, has moved to the playing field and has become such a big deal that it encompasses two days filled with bowling, auctions and a concert at the Sprint Center.
But Friday night belonged to Mahomes, Rudd and David Cook, who proved he can still get after it on the baseball field.
With the public address announcer emploring Mahomes to “hit it out of the park” in his first at-bat, the most popular athlete in the metro area popped up on the infield. Even though it was a charity event, in which most entertainers and musicians posed for a photo with Mahomes at one time during the evening, he flipped his bat in disgust.
Then, as often happens in charity events, Mahomes led off the next inning because Stonestreet, one of the stars of “Modern Family,” pulled up lame with a mystery ailment.
Given a second chance to appease the fans – who were on their feet stomping and cheering – Mahomes, the son of former major league pitcher Pat Mahomes, didn’t disappoint.
He hit a monster shot over the makeshift fence for a home run.
But wait a minute. Who was that guy wearing the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs baseball cap and high stirrups chasing down the ball?
It was Cook, the 2008 American Idol winner, and he made an over the shoulder grab on the warning track that brought cheers from his teammates and a grin from the best quarterback on the planet.
“I’m Public Enemy No. 1 after making that catch,” quipped Cook, who hooked up with Mahomes for a post-game picture. “When he came up the second time I knew he was going to crush it, and I thought I was playing deep – but he REALLY got into that pitch, and I mean he hit it. I didn’t think I had a chance.”
The catch brought a tip of the cap from Cook’s teammate, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
“The kid is an athlete,” Kelce said of Cook. “I didn’t think he had a chance of running that ball down. When he came out on the field, he looked like he was ready to play, and he was.”
The biggest moment of the night for Rudd, who hit a “game-winning” home run – that was prompted by four infield errors – came when Mahomes was asked by a young fan to name his all-time favorite movie.
“Ant-Man,” Mahomes said, referring to the Marvel action flick which stars Rudd. “He can get small, he can get big, he’s a genius. It’s my favorite.’
After that comment, Rudd grabbed the microphone and said, “This is the happiest day of my life!”
As he ran off the field following the game, he was still stoked.
“Patrick’s favorite movie is ‘Ant-Man,’’’ said Rudd, who wore a tuxedo with Mahomes’ name sewn into the back when he introduced him as the winner of the NFL MVP award. “Man, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Well, actually it does. The Big Slick topped the $2 million weekend mark last year and they believe it will raise even more money this year.
“When I was a kid, I did everything I could to get out of this town,” Cook said, “and now, I do everything I can to come back, especially for the Big Slick. I can’t imagine missing this event, it means so much to me and everyone in Kansas City. It’s part of Kansas City – it’s what being in Kansas City is all about.”
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC