COLUMBIA — Softball isn’t football.
A group of about 25 former Missouri football players proved that Saturday night at Taylor Stadium in the Jeremy Maclin Mizzou Legends Charity Softball Game.
The players put on an entertaining comedy of errors in a game which pitted offensive players versus defensive players.
Maclin is a former Missouri receiver and a current NFL player for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Children stood on the steps next to both dugouts in Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Missouri Tigers jerseys asking for autographs.
On the field, Maclin and Sean Weatherspoon, a former Missouri linebacker and current Atlanta Falcons player, posed for a picture with two small fans in the jerseys of Maclin and Weatherspoon.
The lone athletic bright spot on the night actually came before the game when former Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander and Maclin battled each other in the home run derby.
Final count: Alexander 17, Maclin 11.
Weatherspoon did not play in the game. But he provided a funny play-by-play account over the stadium's loud speakers. He chided players at bat and cracked jokes during play.
In the third inning, the defense committed three errors that led to five runs for the offense. After the first error, video clips of cartoon character Homer Simpson saying the phrase “D’oh” ran repeatedly on the scoreboard.
Fittingly, the ending of the game was also a mess. The defensive team, trailing 12-0 at the time, went down in order in the sixth and final inning. But they continued to bat. For a while, it looked like the entire defensive team would bat to end the game.
On the sixth batter of the inning, though, an overthrow at first created a melee. Runners ran around the bases until players from both sides ran toward home plate with the defense scoring its only two runs of the game. After that, both teams decided to end the game and thank fans for coming.
The game ended a fun weekend that benefited the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia and Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home.
A $125-a- person dinner was held Friday night. Saturday morning, Maclin held a free youth football camp for 250 participants ages 7 to 14 at the Missouri football practice facilities. The group of former players, which also included players like the Jaguars' Kevin Rutland, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith and Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood, also visited the Boys and Girls Club on Friday and spent time signing autographs and hanging out with the children.
At the youth football camp, children participated in drills ran by the former players. The young players participated in tackling, receiving, footwork and even touchdown celebration drills.
Near the end of the camp, Weatherspoon saw a boy wearing a pair of Kansas Jayhawks athletic shorts. Weatherspoon picked him up and ran with the boy, sending the camp into a frenzy.
Coaches and participants left their stations and ran to the middle of one of the practice fields. Weatherspoon held the boy on his shoulder in the middle of the mass.
“This is a capital offense and it will not go unpunished,” one of the coaches jokingly yelled.
“We’re having an intervention,” another coach yelled.
Somebody found another pair of shorts for the boy and Maclin took the boy to change.
Noah Riley, 9, said he just loved being around his hero.
“I had real fun meeting one of my best friends (favorite players), T.J. Moe,” Noah said.
Noah is in fourth grade and has already played tackle football for the past two years.
“I just like the sport and love tackling, and growling sometimes.” he said. “It’s just a great opportunity to get stretched and have fun.
“It’s his favorite sport,” his father, Tim Riley, said. “He loves playing with his friends.”
Gavin Rodgers, 9, said he likes playing football because he always has fun.
The only question left after the camp was who had more fun — the coaches or the players?
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder