Each time Kansas coach Bill Self strode to the plate during the celebrity softball game that kicked off Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities Sunday night, the reaction from the crowd was a reminder of Kansas City's split allegiances.
Boos rained down from the Missouri fans in attendance. And cheers and applause from the Kansas supporters canceled some of that out.
Self thrilled his fans and temporarily quieted his hecklers Sunday night when he lined the first pitch he saw from former Olympian Jennie Finch over the left-center-field fence for a second-inning home run. He went 2 for 3 in the game, grounding out to third in the fourth inning and singling in the sixth before being replaced by a pinch runner.
"I've always kind of thought Mizzou people liked me for some reason. I guess I was off base on that a little bit," Self told reporters in Kansas City, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
"I don't know if anyone swung and missed the whole night, but I was nervous I'd do it three times. So to actually put the bat on the ball was pretty cool."
Self used to be an avid softball player in his 20s before his coaching career forced him to find less time-consuming hobbies. It had been about two decades since he last picked up a bat, but after a pair of trips to the batting cages last week, his stroke seemed to come back just fine.
Even Self's ground out worked in his favor as he received a hug from model Chrissy Teigen as he walked back to the bench.
"The hug from Chrissy was nice," Self said with a chuckle. "Jennie gave me a hug later. That was nice too. But the highlight of the whole game had to be me going deep."
Self wore a No. 8 American League jersey during the game, which was fine but not exactly what he requested. He'd hoped to wear No. 08 in honor of Kansas' lone national title team during his tenure.
"I wish I could have worn a 12," Self said in reference to his team's loss to Kentucky in the national title game three months ago. "That would have been really cool to wear a 12 this year."
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