Groups hope to raise $270,000 for youth field

On May 11 the Sultans of Sing and the One Hit Wonders will face off at The Dell Diamond in a softball charity event that will feature some familiar faces.

Reckless Kelly, Dale Watson, the Midnight River Choir and other country music acts will join former Major League Baseball players Norm Charlton, Randy Wells and Greg Swindell at the 6th Annual Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam.

After the game, when the bats have been traded for guitars and the cleats have been replaced with boots, more than a dozen bands will perform.

Reckless Kelly has partnered with Major League Baseball, the Round Rock Express, Ryan Sanders Baseball and other organizations on a $270,000 project that will provide a new professional-grade turf for Downs Mabson Field in East Austin.

Matt Price, director of RBI Austin, an organization that uses baseball to engage with and empower children, is helping the band coordinate with the city of Austin to make the new field a reality.

"This Mabson Field project could really be a game-changer for that East Austin community," Price said. "It's going to be a gem."

The 9-acre park is often used for practices and games by the city's Little League teams, Price said.

Since the band began working on the Mabson Field project, it has raised about $150,000 through the Softball Jam.

Reckless Kelly drummer Jay Nazz said the event has become so popular among the region's musical acts because "every musician wants to be an athlete, and every athlete wants to be a musician." Country music star and Austin resident Watson, who has participated in each of the previous events, had a special pair of cleated boots made for the event, he said.

"These friends of ours really believe in this, and they're really supporting it," Nazz said.

Nazz said the opportunity to make a difference in the band's adopted hometown has driven Reckless Kelly to make the event a success. At times that has even meant dipping into the band's bank account to pay for the event.

"Reckless Kelly is a band that tours all over the country, but we live in Austin," he said.

"Whatever humble success we've had, if we can find a way to use that and to put something into our community, it feels great. It's that simple. The day of the event and the day we hand over the checks are two really special days."

Other performers at the event include Pauline Reese, the Peterson Brothers, George Devore, the John D. Hale Band and William Clark Green.

Run, Rusty, run!

In 2010 Rusty Tolliver spent 73 days running from Boston to Austin in support of Young Texans Against Cancer. During past Softball Jams, Tolliver, an Austin resident, ran 100 miles from San Antonio to The Dell Diamond over the course of two days.

This year Tolliver is hoping to run his way into the record books while helping to draw attention to the Softball Jam and the Mabson Field project.

Tolliver plans to run around the bases at The Dell Diamond continuously for 12 hours leading up to the May 11 event. He plans to document the run for submission to the Guinness Book of World Records, he said.

"A lot of this stuff isn't about the money you raise. It's about the effect you might have on even one person," Tolliver said.

6th Annual Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam

May 11, 1 p.m., $20, The Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, 512-255-2255.