Watt’s charity softball game raises over $425K

Watt’s charity softball game raises over $425K
May 3, 2014, 6:00 am
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SUGAR LAND, Texas – As the sellout crowd of 7,500 was still filing into Constellation Field for the second annual J.J. Watt Charity Classic softball game, Watt met with about a dozen media members in the bowels of the stadium.

“This is all for a softball game,” Watt said, somewhat in disbelief, as he sat down behind a table filled with microphones.

Yup. All for a softball game. But it’s not just any softball game. The Watt charity game pins the Texans’ offensive players against the defense in front of fans and Watt’s incredible celebrity takes center stage for a good cause.

The offense beat the defense 29-23 on the lit up field in Sugar Land on Friday night. But the real winners of the game, in its second year, are the kids who will reap the benefits of over an estimated $425,000 collected from the game for the Justin J. Watt Foundation.

“It’s obviously going to be a massive help to a lot of kids,” Watt said after the game. “So we’re really appreciative of all the fans and my teammates. It’s such a fun event. It’s crazy.”

Watt said his favorite moment of the night was after the game was over when the stadium set off fireworks over right field. He said it was a chance to reflect on how special his charity event and his celebrity have become.

“It’s unbelievable,” Watt said. “The first year, we weren’t sure how it was going to turn out. We didn’t know if it would go smoothly or if fans would even come. And it went better than we ever could have expected. I think the players were blown away. Everybody in my camp was blown away and it was a really special experience. And so this year, to see how it’s even grown from last year, to see how word of mouth has kind of taken over. Fans are showing up at noon or one o’clock for a 7 o’clock game. It’s unbelievable. And to see all this media attention and everything and all for such a good cause. I’m very thankful.”

There were about a thousand home runs in the game and nearly as many laughs. Second-year safety D.J. Swearinger, nicknamed Swagg, danced his way to the batter’s box. Keshawn Martin was tackled before he could reach home plate. And the offense tried out as many group celebrations as possible, including a group salute to Watt.

And Ben Jones was pretty fantastic.

The Texans’ guard and country boy from Alabama, hit an inside-the-park home run with a little bit of help from ball that squirted past the defense’s right fielder. Jones, all 308 pounds of him, rounded all three bases before sliding into home and playing dead on the bag. He later hit a home run that cleared the fence, after which his teammate laid down on the third baseline and made him jump over them one by one.

Andre Johnson said his favorite moment of the game was when he grabbed an oversized baseball and a struggling Johnathan Joseph used an oversized bat to finally get a hit.

On a more serious note, Johnson, who throws many charity events of his own, is very impressed with Watt’s event in its second year.

“It’s big,” Johnson said. “To sell out a minor league baseball stadium for your first event, that’s awesome. Guys wish they could do that. Some guys do things for years and never can. So it’s big on his part. Like I said, this is something everybody looks forward to, the players, the fans and we just enjoy it. It’s just a day where we can come out and have fun.”