LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ever wanted to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Major League ballpark? Here's your chance. How about a chat with some of your favorite players? We've got that covered. Behind-the-scenes ballpark tour? Consider it done.These are among the dozens of items available at
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ever wanted to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Major League ballpark? Here's your chance. How about a chat with some of your favorite players? We've got that covered. Behind-the-scenes ballpark tour? Consider it done.
These are among the dozens of items available at this year's Winter Meetings charity auction, which is open until 10 p.m. ET Thursday at MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction.
Here's the backstory of this event. In 2012, at a time when three members of the baseball family were battling cancer, D-backs executive Josh Rawitch asked each club to contribute an item or items to be auctioned off to raise money for an assortment of charitable efforts.
What followed was an extraordinary outpouring of generosity that has raised almost $1 million. This year's auction will benefit a University of San Francisco sports management scholarship in the name of the late Katharine Feeney, who spent her entire life in baseball, including 30 years working for Major League Baseball.
"The scholarship recipient will demonstrate so many of Katy's characteristics, including her willingness to mentor others, drive to succeed, and natural tendency for leadership," said Giants executive vice president for communications Staci Slaughter.
"The entire Feeney family has been incredibly strong during this very difficult time, but they really have taken a major role in trying to remember her legacy and do the right thing and really honor her in a meaningful way. So they have been with us hand in hand as we've been working on developing the scholarship program.
"It was really their idea to create a scholarship in her memory, and it's been just an honor and a privilege to be able to work with them and to be able to create something that I think will be really special for baseball and for the Feeney family."
Feeney's death at 68 last April saddened those who loved and admired her at every level of the sport. She spent her entire life in the game -- first as the daughter of longtime executive Charles "Chuck" Feeney, and then as an accomplished MLB executive in her own right.
"She was just such a wonderful person," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Her passion for the game and for her work was evident, how much she just loved what she did.
"We're going to continue to miss her, and it couldn't be more evident when you're having events like these Winter Meetings."
Feeney's memory has hovered over these Winter Meetings as baseball sought to honor her legacy. On Sunday, MLB hosted a group of female executives from Major League Baseball and its teams for the first Katharine Feeney Leadership Symposium.
"The last eight months and this weekend and these Meetings have let us know that everybody considered her to be that type of special person," said John Feeney, one of Katy's three brothers. "The outpouring by the baseball community and people in general has been overwhelming for us. It's been very, very, very comforting to us that other people than ourselves, many, many other people than ourselves bear the loss."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.