A record 8,012 fans packed Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton Sunday as the Packers offense topped the defense, 26-25, in the Fifth Annual Brett Favre Celebrity Softball Game.
With all proceeds benefiting the Brett Favre Forward Foundation, the event raised nearly $100,000, all of which will be distributed to charities throughout Wisconsin.
"Today we had a record crowd and it seems like each year it gets bigger and better," Favre said. "Hopefully the fans enjoyed it because that's what it's all about. It's a lot of fun for us and the competitive sides of these guys come out, but everyone had a blast."
The scoring frenzy began early in the first inning when Ahman Green and Favre hit back-to-back home runs, followed by homers from Doug Pederson and Javon Walker to give the offense the 5-3 lead.
Mark Tauscher capped off a four-run fifth inning with a towering two-run home run to right field to extend the offense's lead to 18-11.
Sensing that the game was getting out of hand, offense coach Edgar Bennett pulled ace pitcher Donald Driver after the fifth inning.
"My guys decided going into the sixth inning that they wanted (the defense) to come back and try to make this game more fun, and in order to do that they had to take me out of the game," Driver said. "They were playing hard and came back so I think I must have been doing pretty well."
With Driver off the mound, the defense mounted a fierce comeback by sending only their best hitters to the plate and posting the single-inning maximum 10 runs in the seventh inning, including Ryan Longwell's home run to send the game into extra innings.
"Usually those guys are a bunch of stiffs out there," Tauscher said. "But this year they did a good job. We thought it was in the bag and we started celebrating a little bit and they came back, so you have to give them credit for that."
With every player they had on the roster in the outfield, the defense threw away the game when Longwell fielded Tauscher's slow roller to second base but botched the throw to Rob Davis at home plate, allowing Driver and Carl Ford to score the game winning runs.
"I'm just lucky that the defense is so poor in the field," Tauscher said of his game-winning hit.
For members of the defense, who lost last year for the first time, the answers aren't so clear.
"There was definitely some home-cooking going on out there," said Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who several times throughout the game questioned the calls of the umpires. "I'm not sure what was going on, but I think they were paying the refs."
For the offense, it's simple. A good game plan and the ability to adjust to certain situations is the key to success.
"Well, the defensive guys always cheat," Tauscher said. "We had to adjust to what they were doing and Edgar Bennett did a great job of putting everybody out there and we made some alterations to our lineup. We figured that if Longwell was going to hit fifteen times, then we could put some players up there to hit a couple of times too."
"They kept sending their best guys up there to hit so we thought we would send our best guys up," Driver admitted upon hearing the defense's accusations. "If they want to cheat, we'll cheat too. They say cheaters never win. Well, we won today."
*The Brett Favre Forward Foundation was established in 1996 and is a 501(c)3 organization in which all net proceeds raised from each event benefits charities. The Foundation has donated more than $1.2 million in the past eight years.