Will Ferrell might not be a name you would expect in a baseball roster, but it has happened and it is magnificent. On Saturday night, the short documentary Ferrell Takes the Field aired on HBO which featured Ferrell playing in five different MLB baseball games for 10 different teams in 10 different positions (9 positions on the field and third base coach). Now you might think the concept might sound totally ridiculous and hilarious — and you'd be right in your thinking — but part of Ferrell's comedic charm rests in how seriously he takes the most insane concepts. So this was basically the perfect fit for the comedian. But the idea didn't just come out of thin air for no reason. No, instead Will Ferrell's antics were put to the most noble of pursuits: To raise money for a wonderful charity.
The idea for the project came from two places: Ferrell's friend from college Craig Pollard was a college baseball player until a bout with cancer ended his career. When he finally beat the cancer, he began a charity called Cancer For College which awards scholarships for cancer survivors. Pollard explained in the program that thanks to Ferrell's help, the charity is able to award thousands of scholarships every year. Ferrell hoped to raise one million dollars for the charity by playing 10 positions for 10 teams in one day, a concept which also came from an MLB legend Bert Campaneris, who played all nine positions on the field in one game.
From minute one, Ferrell took the entire concept extremely seriously. He woke up early, he trained, he got on the field with a straight face and a look of determination. In fact, his seriousness is actually what made the entire project so funny. Ferrell began his day of games with the Oakland A's as a shortstop and took the job so seriously that he wouldn't go to reporters to talk about his plans. Instead he walked right past them and stated "I'm in beast mode." Ferrell acted as though playing for each team was a legitimate career for him. Each time he would leave for a new team, he would get "traded" by the general manager and after a few games, he even began to throw a fit.
In the end, Ferrell made a retirement speech, much like professional baseball players, and said, "Was I the best player on the field today? Maybe." He then led the crowd in a chant for himself with the crowd just yelling, "Maybe!" He then continued with his speech:
"There's no doubt I turned some heads today. I brought passion to the field, dedication, ability, and a lot of ignorance. There is life in this 47-year-old arm. They say there's nothing more American than grabbing a hot dog and heading to the ballpark to watch nine guys from the Dominican Republic make magic on the field. But you know what? Today I learned that they are wrong. Make that eight Dominicans and one guy from Irvine, California... On a serious and real note, thank you all. What a day. Thank you Major League Baseball. To my family, and especially to Craig Pollard."
It might have been an insane concept, but Ferrell is making a huge difference with his comedy. And for that he deserves some MLB Hall of Fame–level respect.