Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old YouTube star, will throw Saturday’s first pitch.
By Randy York
The N-Sider has its fair share of inquiring minds and Husker loyalists, but I’m betting few, if any, can translate this: WLST = GVICS. Give up? Here’s your answer: World’s Largest Softball Tailgate = Greatest Value In College Sports! How do I know? Nebraska Athletic Marketing tells me so. Honestly, those hard-working marketers can back up facts with specific truths that should be self-evident for any family smart enough to follow the Huskers to Bowlin Stadium on Saturday. It’s more important to bring a song in your heart than cash in your pocket. No. 16 Nebraska hosts No. 9 Michigan, which brings a nation-leading 22-game winning streak to Lincoln. Where else can a fan see a matchup like that for absolutely nothing? Yes, admission to the game is free Saturday, but not on Friday or on Sunday. The tailgate will run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with first pitch at 1 p.m.
But wait. There’s more to help make Saturday a day of fun and opportunity. Hot dogs, chips and Pepsi are also free, while supplies last. Get there early so you can see one of the year’s biggest littlest national heroes – 7-year-old Jack Hoffman, who will throw the ceremonial first pitch after joining some Husker softball and football players in the autograph zone beginning about 11:40 a.m. Little Jack inspires many Nebraskans, including the Husker softball team, so the team invited Jack and the Hoffman family to be a part of this big day to show support for Jack’s brave fight and for increasing awareness of the disease itself.
Talk about timing. Jack’s name was discussed on the U.S. Senate Floor Thursday afternoon when Deb Fischer (R-Neb) emotionally introduced a bipartisan resolution to designate Sept. 26, 2013, as National Pediatric Brain Cancer Day. A friend of the Hoffman family, Fischer introduced the unanimously approved legislation in honor of Jack, an iconic 7-year-old with brain cancer. His 69-yard Spring Game touchdown 19 days ago has more than 7.7 million video views.
The autograph zone will be open for two hours beginning at 10:20 a.m. and will feature members of Nebraska’s NCAA Sweet 16 women’s basketball team, the Huskers’ NCAA national champion women’s bowling team, plus the Nebraska soccer, volleyball, rifle, men’s basketball, football and softball teams, with each team taking turns signing for short periods of time. Fans will have the opportunity to check out the Husker Helicopter and the Nebraska Football Equipment Truck. They also will be able to take their photo with the Big Ten Softball Trophy. Door prizes that will be given away include day camps with some of our Husker coaches and gift cards from First National Bank. There also will be inflatable fun, balloon artists, face painters and more. Saturday is, after all, the World’s Largest Softball Tailgate. Put everything together and you have an AFE …an Absolutely Free Experience, turning the WLST into the GVICS … Greatest Value In College Sports. Who knows? Saturday’s game may even become a true NUSWOYW … National Upset Special Without Opening Your Wallet.
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