Softball event shows Carson Wentz starting to flex his off-field muscle as a Philadelphian
Eagles quarterback draws big crowd to Citizens Bank Park, announces plans for free food truck to serve the area.
Right now, anything having to do with the Eagles is very big – bigger than ever, in a town where the Eagles are important 365 days a year.
But it was still mildly surprising to see Citizens Bank Park looking nearly half-full Friday evening for the first Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation charity softball game, featuring Team (Jordan) Hicks against Team Wentz. Hicks and Wentz, still recovering from 2017 season-ending injuries, limited themselves to managing the 28 participants.
Foundation officials said about 25,000 tickets were sold in advance, priced from $5 to $100.
This is only Wentz's third summer in the area. We have a pretty good idea of what he can do on the field; Friday, he gave a preview of what it might be like to have him in the community long-term, as one of its most prominent citizens, one with a strong religious orientation.
Wentz announced that his foundation has raised about $260,000 in two months for a youth sports complex in Haiti, and that he would be matching that sum. Wentz also unveiled, in partnership with The Connect Church in Cherry Hill, his new food truck, "Thy Kingdom Crumb," painted kelly green, which he hopes will distribute free food to the needy once a week or so, starting in August, from different locations, including colleges.
"The goal is to provide something different, provide a community atmosphere, just love on people," Wentz said. "It'll hopefully change lives in this community, and hopefully get people plugged into their faith, and get to know Jesus Christ through it as well."
Wentz formed his foundation last year and held the first public event back in his native North Dakota. "The event went great … [but] I knew I wanted to do something here," Wentz said. "I've grown to already love this place, the culture and everything it's about."
Wentz said he's still working through details, since he's not aware of a similar concept anywhere, but he is hoping "grocery stores, restaurants, and food distributors" will want to partner with him and the church.
"I think that's another cool part of it, that you'll never know what it'll be serving when it rolls up," Wentz said.
The softball, meanwhile, was entertaining, if not always adept. Left guard Stefen Wisniewski won the home run derby, bringing home a trophy he said will reside on his mantel alongside his replica Lombardi Trophy from Super Bowl LII.
Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie took part in the home run derby, but not the game. Team Hicks took a 7-1 first-inning lead, but Team Wentz's edge in power began to tell during the middle innings; the QB's group won the six-inning game, 23-12. The atmosphere was loose, as was the fielding.
Wisniewski was the most prolific hitter, but kicker Jake Elliott showed surprising power and a smooth glove. The play of the night came when wideout Bryce Treggs sprinted into and through the pliable temporary fencing in center to rob fellow receiver Mack Hollins of what would have been Hollins' second home run.
There were several players (Nelson Agholor, Jalen Mills, Halapoulivaati Vaitai) who clearly had not played a ball-and-bat game in a while, if ever. But the crowd didn't seem to mind.