Hunter Pence never had to give an inspirational and wild-eyed speech this time. All he had to do was invite someone to have breakfast with him and help end cancer.
After leading his team to the World Series title, the Giants' right fielder was leading the way again in Major League Baseball as the clock struck midnight on Friday morning. Breakfast with Hunter Pence drew one of the highest prices and among the most bids in a special MLB.com Auction during the Winter Meetings that raised $152,700 for Stand Up To Cancer.
"Thanks to the fans, MLB and Stand Up To Cancer for your contributions," Pence said in a text late Thursday, as bidders jockeyed for the coolest breakfast anywhere. "This is a wonderful way to make an impact and thank you all for making it possible."
The auction's success and creative energy was created through a collaboration by all 30 Major League club public-relations directors and their staffs -- individuals who have had enough of cancer diagnoses among co-workers and friends through the years. The auction kicked off with a news conference Monday at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., with all the PR staffers in attendance standing up with MLB and SU2C personnel in a show of solidarity against the disease.
The flurry of last-minute bidding saw Pence's breakfast suddenly passed for most overall bids and highest price obtained. The most bids went to the Padres' contribution of a private baserunning and fielding lesson from their coach Dave Roberts -- a cancer survivor himself. The top sale listing was the Yankees' PR internship for a day, commanding $8,125.
"It is incredible to know so much money has been raised for Stand Up To Cancer through this auction," said Baltimore Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow, whose own battle with lung cancer was one of the reasons club PR departments were inspired to create the auction. "The only way we will be able to reduce cancer mortality rates is through funding for research that organizations like SU2C provide. I am a living example of the impact newly developed drugs can have, and as a member of MLB's PR family I am truly grateful for each team's generosity and eagerness to participate in this initiative."
Barlow's Orioles contributed one of the most bid-on items: A chance to ride on the team bus to Nationals Park for an Interleague game next season. And speaking of the Nationals, they drew more than $5,000 for a chance to actually be in their war room when general manager Mike Rizzo and the club make their first-round pick on June 6 in the First-Year Player Draft.
Pence was among the many Giants and Tigers players who joined at the top of the dugouts during the World Series Game 1 live stadium event at AT&T Park, as everyone stood and held SU2C placards with names of people who have been affected by cancer. It was easy to imagine players being among those eagerly behind this auction effort, easy to imagine fans getting behind the effort, and indeed they were from start to finish.
If you missed out on that Mike Trout meet-and-greet package, then the good news is, there are other Trout items to bid on now that this auction has closed. There is a simple autographed batting helmet as well as one he signed with the inscription "2012 AL ROY."
Someone now looks forward to a 30-minute guitar lesson from Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo. One lucky bidder now gets a private tour of the Rockies' Coors Field clubhouse by Troy Tulowitzki.
Meet-and-greets or unique experiences were donated by current or former All-Stars galore. Now that we know David Wright is staying in New York as a member of the Mets, there is a good chance that the winning bidder of a Mets experience will get to know him next season. One of the most-bid-on items was a chance to take batting practice with the Mets in the indoor batting cage at Citi Field, after which the winner gets to meet numerous players like Wright, watch regular BP from the field, get four tickets to the game and a message on the Citi Field scoreboard.
The event at MLB.com/SU2CAuction included participation via meet-and-greet and/or autographed items from 16 Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Orlando Cepeda, Andre Dawson, Carlton Fisk, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice and Nolan Ryan. Someone even won a meet-and-great with Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully of the Dodgers.
You can still help by donating at SU2C.org. One in every two men and one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, as things stand now.
"Once again, MLB and the 30 clubs have stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park for Stand Up To Cancer with this amazing auction," said Kathleen Lobb, Entertainment Industry Foundation senior vice president and Stand Up To Cancer co-founder. "Providing fans with access to these once-in-a-lifetime baseball experiences was a brilliant way to engage people in supporting SU2C's innovative cancer research. We are profoundly grateful to Commissioner [Bud] Selig and everyone throughout MLB for all they do to stand with us."
MLB and its 30 clubs have donated more than $30 million to fund groundbreaking translational research that delivers new therapies to cancer patients. As a founding donor, MLB has conducted significant awareness-building efforts for Stand Up To Cancer through public service announcements, in-stadium promotion and fundraising events, and has dedicated one World Series game to the initiative for each of the past three years.