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MLB stars and local legends shine in first outing of 2019 Bluegrass World Series


Aug 08 2019
Courier Journal

Former Major League Baseball players from around the country showed they still had some gas in the tank when the Louisville Stars defeated the Hattiesburg Black Sox 8-2 on Wednesday night.

The game was the first of three for the Stars' in the ongoing Bluegrass World Series tournament at Slugger Field.

While the stands weren't packed, fans in attendance were still entertained by 34 former MLB players on the Stars' roster. Two-time World Series champion and two-time MLB All-Star Johnny Damon was one of the headliners, and he seemed to embrace the moment.

"(I was) a little nervous trying to play baseball against some younger guys, but it's for a great cause," Damon said with a smile. "I'm glad we were able to come out and support this.

"This is about having fun and showing some decent baseball. It's not the greatest baseball in the world now, but we used to be there."

The players on the Stars roster may have their best baseball days behind them, but they showed glimpses of what they could do in their heyday. 

Players like Damon and Louisville native Chris Burke were able to create contact early in the first inning, while former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Xavier Paul hit a two-run homer in the second inning to put the Stars on the board.

The Stars had eight different pitchers take the mound, including Louisville natives Sean Green and Scott Downs. Former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets was the standout, pitching for two innings, throwing three strikeouts and only allowing one hit.

The Stars would go on to run up the score in later innings on singles and doubles, giving the crowd at Slugger Field plenty for which to cheer. 

"It was just a blast," Burke said while signing autographs after the game. "So much fun. I feel like every year I forget how fun it is to get out here and play.

"Some new blood this year, a lot of local guys, so that was cool. Catching up with some guys that I've always known and played against but never been on the same team as. That was a lot of fun. Another great turnout."

Other Louisville natives on the Stars roster include pitchers Richard Sullivan, Trever Miller, Jimmy Osting and Todd Wellemayer and second baseman Lou Ott. While Ott was the only one of these players to play Wednesday, the rest are scheduled to take the mound this weekend.

While flexing muscles and reminiscing on the good old days was fun for players, they also came to support charities. The Bluegrass World Series serves as a way to raise money for charities like the Jason Motte Foundation to the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.

For players that grew up in Louisville like Burke — a St. Xavier High School alumnus — doing some potential good for your hometown can be a special feeling. Burke was introduced as one of the "Local Legends."