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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 23 2009

It's official: Billy Crystal, Bob Costas coming to Roger Maris golf tournament

The organist at the Fargo Theatre piped “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with the velocity of a Nolan Ryan fastball. Signature posters from the movie “61*” adorned the stage.

It was all part of the backdrop for the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament, which hit a public relations home run on Wednesday.

He’s coming.

Billy Crystal, the actor/comedian who directed the movie based on the 1961 season of Roger Maris, was officially added to the celebrity list along with sportscaster Bob Costas. Together, the two will be part of a unique feature to this year’s tournament: a showing of the 2001 movie at the Fargo Theatre and a question-and-answer session with the audience after it that will also include movie producer Ross Greenburg.

“I mean, Billy Crystal on our stage,” said Margie Bailly, the Fargo Theatre executive director. “I don’t know how you can possibly go wrong?”

To baseball fans, you can’t.

The Maris committee has been trying to land Crystal for several years. Costas, who had to withdraw last year from the tournament because of a work commitment, was a big help in getting Crystal.

“Billy has been in contact with the Maris family,” said Roger Fenstad, the Maris tournament board chairman.

The tournament festivities will also include actors Barry Pepper and Paul Borghese, who played Maris and Yogi Berra respectively in the movie.

Committee members are hoping to get commitments from other “*61” cast members as the tournament draws near.

The cost of the movie event is $61 and tickets will go on sale at the Fargo Theatre box office June 1. It also includes a pre-party.

The tournament, in its 26th year, is June 27-29. The scramble is still scheduled for Edgewood golf course despite the recent flooding.

Fargo Park District executive director Roger Gress said the concern is how long the water will stay on the course. The hope is to start getting water out of the bowl-area of the course once the river level falls below 28 feet.

“This year, we’ll be cutting it close,” he said, about having the course in top condition for the Maris.

If not, he said Rose Creek golf course will be the backup plan.

“That will be ready and in good shape,” he said.

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia