Best of best featured at All Star game

It was Stuttgart’s own “midsummer classic.”

The cream of the crop from 14 U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart unit-level slow-pitch softball teams met June 30 for an All Star game.

Unlike Major League Baseball’s All Star game, this was not a popularity contest.
“Each team sent its two best players,” said Matt Gilliard, USAG Stuttgart sports coordinator. The players were then ranked according to their teams’ standings, assigned odd or even status, and separated into two teams. Odd-numbered players went to the Red team, even to the Blue team, explained Gilliard.

While the original MLB All Star game was held to help celebrate the 1933 World’s Fair, the purpose of the unit-level All Star game, according to Gilliard, is “to have fun.”

“They’re always playing against each other. Now, they get to play on teams with each other,” said Gilliard.

It didn’t mean the game was any less competitive, though.

“These are the elite players,” said Craig Jones, who stepped away from coaching the U.S. Africa Command team to lead the Blue team. “Any time you put a group like [this] together … it’s going to be competitive.”

The Blue team’s offense was the key to beating the Red team 8-1.

Trent Heckel, who plays short stop for the AFRICOM team, led the Blue team’s attack, going 2-for-3 with a triple and a single.

On defense, pitcher Nino Serrano, who usually plays short stop for U.S. European Command Plans and Operations Center, also contributed to the win. 

“I know these guys and the way they hit. I kept it outside so they would come back to me or pop it up,” said Serrano.

While Serrano said “guys,” he also meant gals. Each team had a female player from the Lady Stallions community team. The Lady Stallions compete in the men’s unit-level league for more field time. 

 Casey Tunnell caught for the Blue team, while Erin Kahl played second base for the Red team.

“Playing with the guys makes us more competitive — it brings us up to the guys’ level,” said Kahl.

Most All Star games include a Most Valuable Player.

In this case, the Red team’s short stop, LaFear Foeman, earned the title for his glove.

“He made some fantastic stops and catches,” said Gilliard.

Foeman, who plays for the Guzzlers, was pleased at the winning the trophy.
“At my age (47) it feels good,” he said. “I’m just an old guy trying to play softball … but when I’m in the game, I try to give it 100 percent.”

He said the Guzzlers, at the time tied for second place, were made up of more “mature” players.

“We’re old and wise,” said Foeman. “We don’t try to be superstars — we play to have fun.”