Jeff Tyndall / Lantern reporter
Ohio’s newest professional sports team, the Ohio Machine of Major League Lacrosse, has already made a record-setting contribution to the Columbus community.
The Machine organized the largest lacrosse game ever played with 112 people Wednesday at Columbus Commons, setting a new world record for the largest documented lacrosse game in history. There was no previously documented record.
Guests were invited to bring their own lacrosse sticks and play with the professionals that make up the first-year MLL franchise.
Those who registered for the game were given a complimentary Ohio Machine T-shirt in either blue or red and a number.
After registration, players tossed the ball around with kids, and just after noon, players and fans took the field.
Matt Hastings, director of ticket sales for the Machine, said becoming a part of the community is what the new franchise is all about.
“We want to introduce lacrosse to the community and make this a fun league that they can enjoy and connect with,” he said. “And we’re doing that by hosting stuff like this and teaming up with other teams in Columbus.”
Former Columbus Crew player Frankie Hejduk, who recently returned to the team in the role of brand ambassador, was there to join in on the action.
“It was fun. I had a blast,” Hejduk said. “It’s great to get out here in the community and promote a new team and sport.”
Hejduk, who said he has never played lacrosse, emulated his sport of choice as he ran down the field with the ball in the net of his stick before picking it out with his hand and punting it down the field.
“It’s kind of a similar sport to soccer,” he said. “You have to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Machine attackman and former Ohio State player, Mario Ventiquattro, said the experience was surreal.
“This experience is unbelievable,” he said. “It was so great to see all the kids and adults out here running up and down the field with us. It was just a blast.”
Ventiquattro said he doesn’t think introducing the city of Columbus to the sport will be too difficult.
“Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the world right now,” he said. “It’s not hard to have people pick up a stick and fall in love with the game. And I know as soon as people are exposed to the game, it will take off.”
And the sunny, 75-degree weather made the event a “10,” Hastings said.
“Whenever you have a bunch of kids and even adults smiling, I’d say it was really successful,” he said. “With this weather on top of it, I’d have to give it a 10.”
The Machine will host the Rochester Rattlers in their home opener at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio.