Will Ferrell's major league career was brief — one day and five games. But he made history just the same, becoming the first player to bat for one team and catch for the other in the same half-inning.
He also replaced an MVP in the field and retired the only batter he faced on the only pitch he threw. Not bad for a 47-year-old rookie with no previous professional baseball experience.
Ferrell, a comedian and movie star, made a whirlwind tour of the Cactus League on Thursday, playing 10 positions — including designated hitter — for 10 teams as part of both a cancer benefit and an HBO special that will air this year.
The day started at Hohokam Park in Mesa, where Ferrell played shortstop and second base in the Seattle-Oakland game. His next stop was Tempe, about a 15-minute drive from Mesa, where he borrowed the cap and glove of Angels outfielder Mike Trout, then took the American League MVP's spot in center in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs.
Four batters into the inning later he raced — relatively speaking — toward right-center to field Welington Castillo's single, then one-hopped a throw to second to hold Castillo to a single.
“When he came out and took my glove and hat, he said he was going to take my job,” said Trout, who listed “Step Brothers” as his favorite Ferrell movie. “Growing up, watching him in movies and stuff, it was pretty cool seeing him in real life. Everyone got a kick out of it.”
Ferrell then changed into a Cubs uniform and coached third base in the top of the fourth, flashing cue cards to batters and baserunners. “Swing as hard as you can,” read one. Others advised players not to steal, to take a pitch and “Remember, these games don't count.”
Chicago Manager Joe Maddon eventually sent Ferrell up to hit for Matt Szczur. Ferrell struck out swinging, then played a third of an inning at first base.
After that Ferrell and his film crew headed to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale for the Cincinnati-Arizona game and from there to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, where he played for both the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox in the same half-inning.
That piece of history wasn't planned but when Ferrell and his crew got caught in traffic, delaying their arrival until the ninth inning, they had to improvise. So after changing uniforms, Ferrell struck out against the Giants' Jean Machi, then went behind the plate to catch an intentional walk from Machi.
Ferrell ended his day in Peoria, pitching for the Dodgers and retiring non-roster outfielder Rico Noel on a hard bunt back to the mound, then playing right field for San Diego in the ninth.
Ferrell's entrance in the top of the seventh inning in Peoria caused a momentary distraction with the Dodgers hitting, but Manager Don Mattingly had no problems with the actor's stunt.
“It promotes our game. Obviously, it's doing something good for charity,” he said. “Will Ferrell's one of those guys, you just love the movies. And he's funny.
“It's spring training. I know it is a fairly serious time from the standpoint of getting ready. But him being out here for one hitter like that, it really didn't change the game any. Something like this is fun.”
Game-used memorabilia from Ferrell's journey will be auctioned at mlb.com, with proceeds going to fight cancer. HBO is also donating proceeds from its project to Cancer for College, which provides scholarships to current and former cancer patients.