WHEELING -J.J. Newman already knew his home town had the nickname ''The Friendly City'' for a reason.
A year ago, at his first annual charity softball game, his pals found out why.
''Last year was amazing,'' said Newman, a Wheeling Park graduate who was drafted in 2006 by the New York Mets. ''The Miracle League did a great job of setting things up. The event itself went amazing. The crowd ... everything was just amazing.
''Wheeling has always supported me pretty well.''
When Newman broke the news to his friends that he was setting up another charity game, they couldn't wait to come back.
''The second I told them I was doing a second charity event they were down,'' Newman said. ''Because of the showout from Wheeling (last year), it was a no-brainer.''
According to Newman, his buddies -NFL Players Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, and Steve Cargile, along with Andile Gumbi, Antonio Sabatini and Michael Stone - never stopped talking about The Friendly City.
''I just came from Hixon's wedding, and for the past year he's done nothing but tell me about how much fun he had in Wheeling,'' Newman said. ''Michael Stone, the second I told him, he was down, too.
''They'd do anything for me and I'd do anything for them.''
The softball game, which will pin the pros against members of the community, such as police officers, firemen, delegates, attorneys, radio and television personalities, will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at the 47th Street ballfield in Wheeling with all the proceeds going to the Children's Home of Wheeling.
In addition to the game, there will be comedy show in the showroom of Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack on Friday night.
Newman will host the show with comedian Chris Miller providing the laughs.
''Chris Miller, he's a big time comedian out of Denver,'' Newman said. ''Last year I kept it private to only family and friends, but this year I had enough time to plan ahead. Wheeling Island did a great job to help set it up.''
The show will start at 7 p.m. with doors opening an hour earlier.
The $10 cover charge will also go to the Children's Home and includes $10 worth of free play at the casino as well as admission to the dance party after.
''Right after the show is done, there'll be a DJ playing all the hits and everyone can come out and have a good night,'' Newman said.
Miller will also be participating in the event on Saturday, while a live DJ will fill the afternoon air with music.
Even though the game is for charity, Newman still says they're out there to compete.
''Competition for the game is good,'' he said. ''Everyone is really competitive.''
Still, those participating know the true reason why they're taking the field.
''At the end of the day, it's all for a good cause. As long as we raise money for the Wheeling Children's Home, everyone walks away a winner.''
Admission for the game is free and buckets will be passed around for donations to the Children's Home.
Sponsors for the event are DiCarlo's Pizza, Gary Dietz, All State Insurance, Gary's Body Shop, Dr. Jeremy Edgmon, Jamison Carpet, OVMC and OVMC Rejuvenation Center.
''Hopefully we'll have a good turnout,'' Newman said. ''Everyone in Wheeling is invited.''