PEORIA, Ariz. - Will Ferrell has raked in box-office millions playing the earnest goofball in a string of sports movies. He took it to a new level on Thursday, when he played all nine baseball positions and coached for 10 teams in five Arizona ballparks in a spring-training blitz.
In addressing the crowd at his final stop in Peoria, the comedian said, "Ruth, Musial, Mantle, Will Ferrell. Who would have thought that one day those names would be synonymous? Show of hands — scratch that, never mind."
Ferrell started at noon in an Oakland Athletics uniform at shortstop, and ended eight and a half hours later playing right field for the San Diego Padres in the ninth inning.
"When I embarked on this journey way back at breakfast," Ferrell said, "I thought to myself, 'Could I do it?' The answer is yes."
Memorabilia from his journey, filmed for an HBO special, is to be sold at auction on MLB.com with proceeds going to Cancer for College and Stand Up to Cancer.
He hugged a guy in an elf suit as he left Mesa, held up a sign saying "Remember These Games Don't Count" as impromptu third base coach for the Chicago Cubs, struck out twice on three pitches each, watched two home runs sail over his head, and chased the ball around the outfield during a challenging stint in left field for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ferrell wore No. 19 for every team except his last one. He didn't want to wear the late Tony Gwynn's number, so donned No. 20 for the Padres.
When it was over, the star of "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and "Elf" took the public address microphone to the infield and recounted his day.
"There's no doubt I turned some heads today, even if it was just for a moment," Ferrell said. "I brought passion to the field, dedication, ability, and a lot of ignorance. The ball moves fast out there, a lot faster than it looks on television. It's like a speeding bullet. It's horrible, terrifying."
In his final stop, he also took the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers and got San Diego's Rico Noel, the only batter he faced, to bounce out to the pitcher.
"Is there life in this 47-year-old arm?" he said.
As he walked off the field, Ferrell waved his cap and gave a security guard a high five.
"They say there's nothing more American than grabbing a hot dog, heading to the ballpark, and watching nine guys from the Dominican Republic," he said. "... But you know what, today I learned that was wrong. They had eight Dominicans, and one guy from Irvine, California.
"Was I the best player on the field today?" Ferrell said. "Maybe, maybe."
Then he led the crowd in a chant — "May-be, may-be, may-be."