The University of Indianapolis baseball team braved the cold and wind outside to put on its first-ever costume game for a charitable cause on Oct. 31. Each player on the team dressed up in a costume of their choice and competed in a short mock baseball game.
Owen Mahan, a child who has been a part of the UIndy baseball roster through TeamIMPACT since February, attended that day, sporting a Spiderman costume to support his team and the charity of the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund.
Head Baseball Coach Gary Vaught, wearing a pink outfit with matching lipstick, said that the game was more than just about having fun.
“We don’t do it for publicity,” he said. “A couple of the guys [from the team] came to me and said, ‘Coach, can we do a Halloween game?’ I said, ‘If we are going to do it, we are going to do it for a purpose. That’s what our school is about.’ I’m proud of the guys. I’m proud that they understand that it’s more than picking up a baseball and playing for the school. They came here to get an education, so they can give back.”
Owen, as a beneficiary of TeamIMPACT, was devoted to raising money to help other children who are less fortunate. TeamIMPACT’s goal is to take children who have gone through great hardship, typically life-threatening and chronic illnesses, and pair them up with collegiate athletic teams.
The other charity supported at the game was the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which has a similar goal of granting terminally ill children and their parents a fun experience to which otherwise they would not have access.
“Today we raised over $1,000,” Vaught said. “We [have] presented a check already, but I know we still have more money coming in.”
As a result of the publicity from a nationwide commercial shot on the UIndy baseball diamond for the Greyhounds’ recent charitable efforts, noted voice actor Philip Hayes wrote to the team to show his support. Hayes is known for his role in several different works such as “Unforgiven,” “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Sabrina, the Animated Series.” An autographed picture of the actor was presented to Owen prior to the start of the game.
The game itself continued outdoors that Halloween afternoon, despite the uncooperative weather. Team members dressed as Luigi, Richard Nixon, Power Rangers, an astronaut, a giant banana and many others took the field for the charitable event.
The combination of clumsy hits and runs, or tags, left the crowd at the event that afternoon entertained and laughing. Plays lasted for several minutes on the field, as the team allowed themselves to be informal in the less-than-structured game.
Pickles would leave one player or another running between bases for long periods of time, while an assortment of other players attempted to chase them down for the out.
Junior second baseman Anthony Asalon, who dressed as the President of the United States, with two other players, who portrayed secret service agents, said that all of the players on the team understood that the game was played for an important purpose.
“This was all about having a little fun with Owen. He’s gone through a lot lately, and I think it’s good for him to be around a bunch of goofballs like us. I had a blast,” he said. “You can’t not have fun out here with these guys. It’s good to get out there and not make a mockery of the game, but still have a little fun.”
The team played two full innings, with each team member, including Owen, getting a chance at bat before the game was called. No score was kept by the team for the event.
Vaught and Asalon both said that they hope to continue hosting the festive game in the future as an annual event for the program.
The Greyhound baseball team will open there season in Dahlonega, Ga. at the University of North Georgia on Feb. 13 2015.