COLUMBIA, S.C. - Before the South Atlantic League's brightest stars take center-stage for the 58th annual SAL All-Star Game on June 20, local South Carolina and national celebrities will showcase their skills in a Celebrities vs. Soldiers Softball Game at Spirit Communications Park. The game will take place on Monday, June 19 prior to the SAL Home Run Derby. The start time for the Celebrities vs. Soldiers Softball Game is set for 6:15pm, with the Home Run Derby immediately following. Gates will open at 5:00pm.
A team of celebrities including Gamecocks legends Alex English and Marcus Lattimore and former Atlanta Braves outfielder and MLB All-Star Ryan Klesko, will take on a team of Fort Jackson soldiers. The rest of the celebrity roster features Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, two-time MLB All-Star Orlando Hudson, South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame inductees Rick Sanford (USC HOF 2002) and former Gamecock / Texas Rangers baseball player Drew Meyer (USC HOF 2013), current Carolina Panther Damiere Byrd, Columbia, SC native and former NFL star Michael Boulware, pitching coach for the Puerto Rican National softball team Jessica Boulware, Clemson football star Jacoby Ford, and two-time Gold Glove award winner Pokey Reese. George Rogers, USC's sole Heisman Trophy winner, will be coaching the star-studded line up. Three local news personalities will also be joining the team: Joe Cook from WLTX, Corey Miller from WACH FOX and John Farley from ABC Columbia.
"What an honor it will be to welcome so many stars to Spirit Communications Park - many of whom have Columbia or University of South Carolina ties," said Fireflies President John Katz. "Our goal was to create a multi-day celebration of baseball to the Midlands. Adding this event to the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, this is an event that fans in Columbia and around the South Atlantic League won't want to miss."
English, a Dreher High School alum, was an All-American on the hardwood at South Carolina before playing 15 years in the NBA (eight-time All-Star). English was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame and his 1,972 points scored while at USC ranks second in program history. Lattimore, another former Gamecock, helped South Carolina to three bowl games in his career. A graduate of Byrnes High School, the running back was one of the most decorated high school players in state history. Klesko, known as a power hitter during his playing days, won a World Series with the Braves in 1995 and the following season mashed a career-best 34 home runs.
Hudson is another South Carolina native, growing up in Darlington and playing collegiately at Spartanburg Methodist. Sanford became the first South Carolina Gamecock selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Meyer and Byrd are both South Carolina graduates as well. Meyer helped lead the Gamecocks to the championship game of the College World Series in 2002 and Byrd starred on both the football and track and field teams while at USC.
The Home Run Derby following the Celebrities vs. Soldiers softball game will begin at 7:30pm and will feature eight South Atlantic League Players and 6 High School baseball players from the state of South Carolina. These High Schoolers received a bid to the South Atlantic League Home Run Derby after winning their respective qualifier. There will be three representatives from the Midlands, one from the Low Country, one from the Upstate and one from the Grand Strand.
The All-Star Game on June 20 will feature rising stars from around the South Atlantic League, including five Columbia Fireflies players and four members of the coaching staff. All-Star Game Fan Fest will kick-off the Tuesday festivities from 3-6pm. This event features autographs from both teams, a live band, free inflatables for kids, and the opportunity to watch both teams take batting practice. The All-Star Game begins at 7:05pm and will feature the ZOOperstars! and post-game fireworks.
Tickets for the 58th annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby and Celebrities vs. Soldiers Softball Game are on sale now. Visit FirefliesTickets.com, the Spirit Communications Park ticket office or call (803) 726-4487 for more information.
The Fireflies are now offering a Be an All-Star Sweepstakes package for the festivities on June 19 and 20. Fans purchasing a ticket to both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game are entered to win a package that includes the following: an official 2017 South Atlantic League All-Star Game jersey, on-field access during the Celebrities vs. Soldiers Softball Game and Home Run Derby, three signed baseballs (one by the North All-Stars, one by the South All-Stars and one by the Celebrities), on-field access for batting practice before the All-Star Game, pre-game recognition before the All-Star Game, four Club Lounge passes for the winner and three guests for the All-Star Game and two tickets to the Monday Night Party at Music Farm. Two winners will be chosen. No purchase necessary. Fans can also enter to win by mailing their name, address, phone number, and email address to:
Spirit Communications Park (Attn: Be an All-Star Sweepstakes)
1640 Freed Street
Columbia, SC 29201
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.