The 3rd annual Brian's Baseball Bash at ESPN Zone was an overwhelming success. And Brian Roberts again came through as a gracious and accommodating host.
Three years ago, Roberts decided to do something big for the University Of Maryland Hospital for Children. Roberts is a frequent visitor of the children patients at the hospital, freely giving of his time, but he wanted to do more. And the idea of a big fundraising event was born.
Brian's Baseball Bash not only raises money for the hospital to help families and patients, it brings critical awareness to the general public about what the hospital does and what is needed to help the children who are ill. Brian fully understands how important it is to get the message out when you are trying to help in a meaningful way.
Brian relates to the kids in a way few professional athletes can. When he was 5-years old, Brian underwent open heart surgery. He remembers being scared and not knowing what it all meant. And he can talk to the children at the hospital, not only as a sports hero but as an equal. He gives the children hope and makes their day brighter by showing up unannounced at the hospital to visit with patients, play games, sign autographs and remind the children that someone cares.
The 3rd annual baseball bash was the biggest and best ever. It attracted a sellout audience, packing the ESPN Zone, and it featured an entertaining and successful live auction.
Brian, through his connections as a Major League All-Star, acquired numerous sports memorabilia items for the silent auction including autographed jerseys, bats, baseballs, cleats, photos and more.
But the highlight of the night was the live auction. There were several unique items to bid on like a batting lesson with Roberts or a pitching lesson with Jim Palmer.
I was honored to serve as the emcee of the event for the 3rd straight year and little did I know my mother and I would become prominent in the bidding.
One item up for bid was spending a day with me at Camden Yards for an Orioles telecast, complete with observing the production meeting, and sitting in the booth during the game. With Brian and the auctioneer getting the crowd hyped up the bidding soared.
Two generous fans agreed to pay $3,000 each to spend a day next season as a guest of MASN and observe a telecast. Amazingly it was the highest bid of the evening, (Yes even more than the pitching lesson with my colleague and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer). It shows how Orioles fans are enjoying the telecasts on MASN and want to get behind the scenes.
But the most unique bid started as a question. Todd Ruprecht of Kristen's Friends, one of the events sponsors, sent word to me on the stage that if I could get my mother to donate two pans of her baked ziti, it was certain to bring in some money and he would be the first to bid.
Whenever my mother visits from New Jersey I have an amazing number of requests for her Italian cooking.
So in the spirit of charity we put the two pans of baked ziti up for bid. And with a pan of German Potato salad donated by my wife Bonnie thrown in, Todd bid $2,000 and won the food. (I quickly called my mother after the event to alert her she now owed Brian's Baseball Bash two pans of baked ziti).
Todd's suggestion reinforced what Brian's event is all about. Getting people together for a wonderful cause to help children who are ill deal with their sicknesses and hopefully recover.
Winning a home cooked dinner was secondary to donating the money to help Brian help the kids. The live auction alone brought in $35,200 and the event was hoping to raise $200,000 for the hospital.
Everyone at the Bash agreed that our children deserve every chance to grow up and succeed.
Not to mention, Brian Roberts is a tremendous baseball player. He's one of the best lead-off hitters in the game; he's a doubles machine; and he can steal bases and is a solid fielder.
But beyond his baseball ability, Roberts is a tremendous person who doesn't take his celebrity for granted and uses it for whatever good he can do. Brian doesn't just use his name to help, here's there, in person, giving back.
The patients at the University Of Maryland Hospital for children and all of us who make Baltimore our homes are fortunate to have such a caring person doing tremendous work in the community.
If you'd like to help. You can make a donation to the University Of Maryland Hospital for Children, in care of Brian's Baseball Bash.