The night was a combined celebration of 50 years of New York Mets Baseball plus a giant helping hand for those members of the Baseball Family who are in need. The 23rd annual "Going to Bat for B.A.T." Fundraising Dinner presented by Natural Balance Pet Foods drew more than 125 current and former Major Leaguers, including 14 Hall of Famers, and it was the Say Hey Kid (Willie Mays) who stole the show.
The dinner began with a playful 80-year-old Mays talking baseball in commanding fashion for 15 priceless minutes, finally declaring "The Catch" during the 1954 Giants-Indians World Series his most memorable moment in a hallowed 23-year career. The opening act was impossible to top but there were many treasured moments to come, including the gathering of 62 former Mets, appropriately, ranging from six members of the loveable 1962 losers to the 1969 Amazins to the 1986 “never say die” champs. It ended with an anonymous donor texting a $100,000 donation for the opportunity to play a round of golf with Sandy Koufax. The Hall of Fame pitcher agreed from the ballroom crowd just before the close of the show to the delight of the 1362 guests in attendance.
Cardinals outfielder and former New York Mets superstar Carlos Beltran was presented the Bart Giamatti Award, given annually to an individual who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late Commissioner. "I feel very happy today being here, and being able to receive this award really confirmed what I am doing back home in Puerto Rico is a good thing," Beltran said.
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was presented the 2012 Big B.A.T./Frank Slocum Award by 2011 Winner Bob Watson. It is named after B.A.T.'s first Director and given to the player who most exemplifies his values that built the organization. Jones is very active in volunteering with many different organizations in the Baltimore community. Jones said, "My mission is simple -- it's to help." Since the dinner Adam Jones and Bob Watson have joined B.A.T.'s Board of Directors.
For the second consecutive year, both the Yankees and Dodgers were recognized as recipients of the annual Bobby Murcer Award. It is presented to the team in each league whose players contribute the most money to B.A.T. through the B.A.T. Payroll Player Deduction Program that previous Spring Training. The Yankees have won the award for the AL each year since it was created in 2009, with Yankees manager Joe Girardi accepting the award for his club from Murcer's widow Kay.
Entering its 27th year, B.A.T. has assisted members of the Baseball Family who have fallen on medical, financial and psychological hardships through financial grants, health care programs and rehabilitative counseling. More than $25 million in grants has been awarded to date, benefiting more than 2,800 members who needed assistance.
More than 1,300 Players, Coaches and Managers Pledge almost $2.3 Million to Baseball Assistance Team during the 2012 Spring Training Fundraising Tour
MLB All-Stars Take To Twitter to Acknowledge @BATcharity; New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks Named Recipients of 2012 Bobby Murcer Award
More than 1,300 players, coaches and managers from all 30 MLB Clubs have collectively pledged a record donation of nearly $2.3 million to the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) during the organization’s 10th annual Spring Training tour to raise funds for members of the Baseball Family in need of assistance. The donations, which were a 10% increase in monetary commitments compared to last year’s figures, will be made through the MLB Payroll Deduction Program, allowing players to provide funding for B.A.T. throughout the course of the season. This year’s tour brought the Spring Training fundraising total to more than $13 million pledged over 10 years, and comes at a time when requests for assistance are at an all-time high.
During the tour, representatives from B.A.T., including Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones, former MLB All-Stars ”Sudden” Sam McDowell, Cookie Rojas and Randy Winn, along with B.A.T. Board Members Jim Martin and Mark Letendre and B.A.T. Manager Erik Nilsen, visited various clubhouses to inform and educate Clubs on the mission of B.A.T. and the support the organization provides to those in need. They were joined by several B.A.T. grant recipients who shared stories of the positive effects B.A.T. has had on their lives and the lives of their family members.
Several MLB All-Stars and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon provided their reactions to the B.A.T. Spring Training presentations via Twitter:
@CY24_7 (Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young): “#GreatOrganization!!”
@TheCUTCH22 (Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen): “thank you guys”
@RaysJoeMaddon (Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon): “great cause and greater work on your part…thx for informative presentation”
“The entire B.A.T. organization thanks the many players, coaches and managers for their tremendous contributions this spring toward assisting the Baseball Family. This generosity is a wonderful testament to the lengths in which Baseball will go to support their own when it is needed most, and includes the continued support and cooperation of the MLBPA,” said B.A.T. President and Baltimore Orioles Broadcaster Gary Thorne.
Tthe New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks are the recipients of the 2012 Bobby Murcer Award, which is given to the team in both the American League (Yankees) and National League (D-backs) whose players commit the most amount of money to B.A.T. during the Spring Training Fundraising Tour. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Yankees have won the award. Both Clubs will be presented with the Bobby Murcer Award at next year’s “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner” on January 22, 2013 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.
B.A.T. is fortunate enough to have Bob Watson and Adam Jones join the B.A.T. Board of Directors.
Bob brings a wealth of experience and many assets to the organization as he was a Major League All-star and General Manager, and an Executive for Baseball Operations in the Commissioner’s Office. He helped build the great Yankees Dynasty in the late 90’s bringing them their first World Series title in 18 years in 1996. He also has always had a kind heart for B.A.T. and was previously awarded the Big B.A.T./Frank Slocum Award in 2011.
“B.A.T. is a great organization and I’m honored, excited and I’m anxious to get to work and do my part,” Watson said.
Center fielder Adam Jones is in his fifth season with the Orioles. Acquired in February 2008 from the Seattle Mariners, Jones was named Most Valuable Oriole in 2011, setting single-season career-highs in seven offensive categories and leading MLB center fielders in assists. In 2009 Jones was named to the American League All-Star team and also won a Rawlings Gold Glove. In addition to his on-field accomplishments Jones is active in the Baltimore community, participating in RBI League clinics and making appearances at area YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs.
“I am proud to join the Baseball Assistance Team Board, and it is an honor to be a part of an organization that does such good work. As a member of the Major League Baseball family, it is all of our responsibilities to assist our peers when they are in need,” Jones said.
Both men have been involved in the community and want to see B.A.T. move forward in a positive manner. B.A.T. welcomes them and looks forward to their contributions.
The Baseball Assistance Team wishes Octavio “Cookie” Rojas the best of luck and health in the future. Cookie resigned from the B.A.T. Board due to personal reasons but will remain part of organization as part of the B.A.T.’s Advisory Board. “It was a tremendous honor to work with B.A.T. and its members. It’s one of the best organizations that exist in the world that helps its family,” Cookie stated.
Cookie was a five-time All-Star over the course of a 16-year Major League career, including stints as a manager and as a coach. In addition, he serves as the Spanish announcer for the Florida Marlins. Cookie has been a part of the Board since February, 2006 and has gone above and beyond with his role on the B.A.T. Board, often visiting with B.A.T. grant recipients and applicants. Among his latest accomplishments, Rojas helped the Baseball Assistance Team raise almost $2.3 million over Spring Training – a new record!
“Everyone knows Cookie was a great ballplayer. But he is even a greater and compassionate human being! Giving back to the game that was so good to him, he has spent countless hours helping others from the Baseball Family who have encountered difficulties in their life. The Baseball Family should be proud of his efforts!” B.A.T. Board Member Greg Wilcox added.
B.A.T. certainly misses him and wishes him well. Good Luck Cookie!!
If we are shaped by what we give and not what we get, we at BAT are extremely fortunate to have shining examples of those who give.
This letter notes the "retirement” of Cookie Rojas from our Board. He gave unendingly and cared deeply about BAT's work. He remains available to help in any way he can.
Bob Gibson left his active work with the board after years of commitment in both time and money. He continues with us in an advisory capacity.
Our Advisory Board member Sandy Koufax treated all who came to the dinner with endless autographs and when we tried to move him from the table where he was signing, he asked to stay. We had to drag him upstairs to the dinner.
Best of all, all three will be embarrassed and mad at me for saying these things, but I believe those who support BAT should know that those who serve now and those who served in the past on the Board, Advisory Board, on staff and volunteer for committee work, do so with a profound sense of giving.
Unfortunately, the needs are endless. Fortunately, the giving is the same.
To all who support BAT in whatever way, thank you.
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