By Michael Page
The fourth-annual Lardarius Webb charity softball game was a smash hit June 2 as 6,500 fans filled a sold-out Ripken Stadium to see 40 of their beloved Ravens compete on the diamond.
Fans were treated to a pregame batting practice, during which players spent much of their time interacting with fans and signing autographs. Wide receiver and kick/punt returner Jacoby Jones came on the field fresh off his "Dancing with the Stars" run and treated the fans to some of his patented moves, igniting the crowd.
The game itself, which matched the offense against the defense, ended in a 16-7 win for the offense. Led by running back Bobby Rainey and punter Sam Koch, the offense jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the first inning and didn't look back.
Yet the score did nothing to ruin the fun.
"I bought tickets for my aunt and my mom and it was a surprise," Chrissy Day of Rising Sun said. "They knew we were going some place, something to do with the Ravens, but they didn't know exactly what it was."
Day's surprise was a big hit with the family, she said.
"They loved it," Day said. "They were smiling from ear to ear and were super excited."
Like many fans in attendance, Day left with her share of autographs and has a place at home ready to show them off.
"I have a Ravens room above my garage that I made into a little Ravens nest," Day said, "so I have them up there on display."
Day had attended the event last year with her daughter and said she thought it was the perfect place to bring the rest of her family to see a different side of the Ravens.
"I like the fact that when you go to M&T [Bank Stadium], it's no nonsense and strictly business," Day said, "and here they are so laid-back and they're having a good time and you kind of see them in a different light. They're playing around and goofing around with one another, and I like seeing that."
Joining the Ravens on the field were some of Baltimore's radio personalities, including Mark Zinno, Jeremy Conn and Glenn Younes, who emceed the event.
"Look how many players are here," Zinno said. "This is a great event. Look how packed the stands are. I mean, you can't ask for a better event for fans and for the players. It's a great way to get everybody together and have a little fun and show off some different skills and enjoy each others' time and company. This is a great day."
Webb spent much of the day making rounds along the fences, chatting with fans and signing autographs while thanking people for coming out and showing such strong support for his foundation.
"[We're] doing it for the fans," Webb said, "just being out here able to give back to the fans and the kids, the way they support us and on the road and buying our jerseys. So why not give back to them? Give them a day to come out and enjoy time with them and enjoy the time with us and try to give them a show."
Webb said the fans' willingness to support his efforts in improving children's lives was impressive.
"My foundation, you know, support the kids and getting them off the streets and giving them something else to do … [such as] after-school programs," Webb said. "As long as I'm here, we'll be here. … I love the Baltimore Ravens and I love this Baltimore community, and I just love being around … the people are great. Thank you very much from the bottom from my heart, from me and my foundation, for just coming out and just supporting us."
Some of the event's featured sponsors were on the field and took part in the game, which caused a small problem when someone noticed one of the sponsors was wearing Steelers socks. He was quickly ejected and asked to leave to the jeering and boos of the crowd. That sponsor found out that although this was a charity event, it was first and foremost a Baltimore event and a Ravens event.
"He was a sponsor, but I feel that he disrespected me and my teammates by coming out to play with us with Steelers socks on," Webb said. "Knowing that we don't like them and it's a heated, hated rivalry, and for you to put on those socks, I felt disrespected."
Adam Pattisal of Bel Air, playing in his second straight event as a featured sponsor, had no such problems.
"Getting to play and meet all they guys," Pattisal said, "watching all the commotion that goes on when they're not on the field -- they're serious out there, but here it's a lot of fun. How they let their hair down here, I'm sure they have game faces when they're playing their real games, but out here, you get to see their personalities."
The Ravens players rallied behind Webb and his event, showing up on a day off during the offseason to support their teammate and show the fans their appreciation.
"Webby does a good job of putting on events for the kids and the community," kicker Justin Tucker said. "Going out to things like this to support your teammates in all of their endeavors, it's really important to us. Webb lets it be up to us, and the cool thing is so many guys volunteer to come out every year."
More Cheap Seats:
• Ravens Come Together At Softball Game To Support Lardarius Webb Foundation
• America's Best Racing Attracting Young Fans To Horse Racing
• Six Future Terps Make Under Armour Boys' All-America Teams
• New Aberdeen IronBirds PA Announcer Excited To Entertain Crowd
• LPGA Event To Debut At Caves Valley In 2014
• PressBox And Tate Dodge Congratulate The Winners
Issue 186: June 2013