After taking a hiatus in 2018, J.J. Watt's annual Charity Classic softball game return this Saturday to Minute Maid Park. Jim McIngvale, better known as Mattress Mack, will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Watt announced via Instagram this week.
"Throwing out first pitch will be a man that I look up to, a man that people all over Houston look up to, a man who has been an inspiration, who did so much during Hurricane Harvey and beyond – Mattress Mack," Watt said. "Cannot wait to have Mattress Mack out at the Charity Classic at Minute Maid Park on Saturday. Come out, show your support. I'd love to give him a huge standing ovation as a thank you for everything that he's done for the city of Houston."
McIngvale, who owns and operates the Gallery Furniture retail chain, famous for his commercials as well as his philanthropic efforts in the community. After Hurricane Harvey, Mack opened several of his stores as shelters for Houstonians, allowing displaced flood victims to sleep on his brand-new furniture and mattresses.
Star Wars fans will also appreciate Watt's special surprise honoring "Star Wars" Day, which takes place the same day.
"Because it's on May 4, we may have a little Star Wars theme going with some of the things," Watt said. "We're trying to figure out if we can get a Stormtrooper in or something. We might do that. Hopefully going to have a couple special guests as well, but we're really excited for that and I know the guys are excited. I'm lucky to have teammates who come out and support because it's a great event and like I said, we raise a ton of money."
Players have been preparing for the return of the home run derby. The lineup features 10 Texans players: DeAndre Hopkins, Greg Mancz, Nick Martin, Deshaun Watson, A.J. McCarron, Benardrick McKinney, Whitney Mercilus, D.J. Reader, (now-retired) Shane Lechler and Watt.
"I ask the guys to show up at a certain time just so that we have enough time to get ready for the home run derby," Watt said. "I think it's the first time I've ever seen guys show up like two hours early for anything. It's really cool. We get in the clubhouse. We have a lot of fun. We go out there and the fans make it great."
Watt, named the NFL's 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year after raising over $41 million with his Hurricane Relief Fund, began the Charity Classic in 2013. Each year, Watt and Texans help raise money for the J.J. Watt Foundation, which provides funding for middle schools across the country with insufficient funds for after-school athletic programs.
The 2019 J.J. Watt Charity Classic takes place on Saturday at Minute Maid Park with the home run derby at 6 p.m. and the game starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at JJWFoundation.org.
Check out some of the best shots from the 2017 J.J. Watt Charity Classic.