ST. LOUIS -- Behind the efforts of club public relations directors and their staffs last December, $152,700 was raised for Stand Up To Cancer through a unique auction of baseball experiences. The success of the initiative has led the group to repeat its efforts, and 80 new items and experiences will be posted for bidding in another special MLB.com Auction.
MLB, a founding sponsor of Stand Up To Cancer, has given more than $35 million to the fund since its inception in 2008. Public relations representatives from the 30 clubs were inspired to aid with the fundraising efforts and eventually developed the idea to host an auction. The full list of auction items up for bid this week will be officially announced at a news conference on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Bidding closes at 9 p.m. CT Thursday with baseball-related experiences ranging from private pitching and batting lessons with players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides and meet-and-greets with Hall of Fame players. Two of these experiences are sponsored by the Cardinals.
The first is the Ultimate Winter Warm-Up Experience, which includes two passes to the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up (Jan.18-20), two nights at the downtown Hyatt, a pair of tickets to the St. Louis Baseball Writers' Association of America Dinner (Jan. 19), a private reception with manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak, and an autograph meet-and-greet opportunity with Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. The opening bid for this package is $1,000.
In a separate auction item, the Cardinals are offering a chance for someone to tag along during the team's photo day in Spring Training. The winner of this package will be provided a one-night stay at a hotel near the Cardinals' Spring Training complex in Jupiter, Fla. On Feb. 24, he/she will walk through photo day with players and will receive an official Cardinals jersey and hat. The winner will then get to watch the Cardinals' spring workout later in the day. This experience starts with a bid of $500.
Melody Yount, the Cardinals' manager of media relations, was one of the driving forces behind this collaborative fundraising effort by MLB's public relations staffs. Yount is one of three women holding jobs in the media relations department for an MLB team to be diagnosed with cancer over the last five years.
After enduing a two-year battle with breast cancer, Yount has been in remission since August 2011. Monica Barlow (Orioles) and Shannon Forde (Mets) continue their fights. It was through the efforts of their colleagues that the idea to organize a baseball-wide auction emerged.
Yount is not the only member of the Cardinals family to be personally affected by cancer in recent years. Left fielder Matt Holiday and his mother, Kathy, became local spokespersons for colon cancer screenings after Kathy was diagnosed in 2012. Motte has befriended several children battling cancer and recently hosted his second annual Strike Out Cancer event. The Strike Out Cancer T-shirts he helped design also have become popular items around town.
Mike Roberts, a crosschecker in the Cardinals' scouting department, recently went into remission after a battle with colon and rectal cancer. Two longtime Cardinals employees -- Karen Brown and Marty Hendin -- passed away from cancer in the last six years.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.