APPLETON, Wis. – It was not going to rain on Jordy Nelson’s parade.
Some early morning showers held up the festivities briefly but cleared the way for a warm and beautiful Saturday for Nelson’s annual charity softball game in front of 8,228 at Fox Cities Stadium.
In between cornerback Damarious Randall successfully defending his home run derby title and the offense rallying for a dramatic 27-25 victory in the game, a check for $130,000 was presented to Young Life.
The faith-based organization connects youth with adult leaders and is a charity Nelson and his wife Emily have been involved in since being introduced to it early in Nelson’s NFL career by former Packers teammate Aaron Kampman.
“It’s an organization my wife and I truly believe in and love what they do with the kids, not only in the Green Bay area which is the one we’re a part of, but all the way across the world,” Nelson said.
“Just bringing awareness to it (is important). They’re always looking for more sponsors and more leaders to help mentor these kids, because obviously they’re the next generation. There’s a lot of craziness going on in this world, so the more adults that are around these kids, the better. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
The softball game featured its share of craziness, as the offense blasted its way to an 18-3 lead through four innings, switched scores with the defense, and then came back to win anyway.
Randall hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give the defense its last lead. It was Randall’s second homer of the game after he matched his jersey number 23 in the derby finals to beat rookie QB Taysom Hill. Randall even swung around left-handed to belt his 23rd and final homer of the derby, which he won for the second straight year.
The offense then got its win, as Richard Rodgers belted his seventh – yeah, seventh – long ball of the game for a walk-off, three-run shot in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“It’s a fun atmosphere for everyone, especially the young guys,” said the fourth-year tight end, who drove in 13 runs on his seven homers, one a grand slam. “This is their first interaction with the fans and seeing everyone out here and how much they support us. It’s just a good day overall.”
Nelson’s kids even joined in on the act, getting on and circling the bases on some of the offense’s home runs.
Nelson hit five himself, while Aaron Rodgers and Ty Montgomery added two apiece. Several of the moonshots cleared not just the temporary softball fence but Fox Cities Stadium’s actual outfield wall.
“I hope they moved all the vehicles outside the fence,” Nelson said. “Taysom Hill broke (a windshield) in the sponsor game. I’m pretty sure Rich broke a few windows. It’s pretty amazing what these guys can do, just natural athletes, the way they swing the bat.”
The defense left something to be desired at times, but there were a few highlights.
The offense nearly turned a double play on a comebacker to Nelson on the mound. Without looking, he flipped the ball back over his head to shortstop Richard Rodgers, but the relay throw to first was low.
Randall appeared to rob QB Joe Callahan of a potential home run with a leaping catch near the fence, safety Jermaine Whitehead made a nice, sliding grab in the outfield gap, and Aaron Rodgers caught a pop-up barehanded after seeing one nearly squirt out of his glove earlier in the game.
Some players were clearly out of their element on a diamond versus a gridiron, but it was all in good fun for a good cause. Rookie running back Aaron Jones laid down a bunt that produced a comedy of errors, sending him all the way around to score.
Jones was just trying to avoid looking foolish at the plate, not having played any form of baseball for a long time.
“Since I was like 8,” he said. “That’s why I got up there and bunted. I’ve never hit a home run in my life, so an in-the-park home run, I’ll take it.”
The players will get back to work in OTAs next week, with the offseason-concluding minicamp to follow the week after that.
But Saturday was a getaway day and Green Bay’s sluggers put on quite a show for an enthusiastic, sun-dried crowd.
“Obviously it turned out to be a perfect day here to have fun,” Nelson said. “We’ll talk about it for the next couple weeks while we’re here, and then once again next year when it’s coming back around again.”