Just for a moment, Yadier Molina helped Puerto Ricans forget their troubles and seize the holiday spirit. The Cardinals catcher gathered some of Major League Baseball's biggest names on a humid Saturday in San Juan for his second annual Home Run Derby & Celebrity Softball Charity Game.More than 20,000 fans
Just for a moment, Yadier Molina helped Puerto Ricans forget their troubles and seize the holiday spirit. The Cardinals catcher gathered some of Major League Baseball's biggest names on a humid Saturday in San Juan for his second annual Home Run Derby & Celebrity Softball Charity Game.
More than 20,000 fans packed into San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium to watch their favorite Puerto Rican celebrities and athletes support Foundation 4 -- a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by Molina and his wife, Wanda Torres.
"I am so happy with the support given by the players of Team Rubio who donated their time to be present here [Saturday] and to unite and bring happiness once again to the people of Puerto Rico," said Molina, captain of Team Rubio and catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Alex Cora, Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, Carlos Baerga, Ricky Bones, Joe Jimenez, Jose De Leon, Carlos Delgado, Jose Berrios, Jose Molina, Edwin Diaz, Roberto Perez, Alex Claudio and Hiram Burgos rallied to collect more than $200,000 to help hurricane victims on the island.
The newly retired Carlos Beltran was expected to attend, but his flight got canceled due to the season's first snowfall in New York. Still, the slugger refused to miss it, sending a video explaining his absence that played on the stadium's Jumbotron.
Despite everything, Molina honored Beltran at the event for his 20-year career and 2017 championship ring with the Astros. Beltran sent his well wishes to Molina for uniting Team Rubio once again -- the group of athletes and friends last met during the World Baseball Classic in February of this year. Beltran donated $20,000 to Foundation 4 on behalf of him and his wife, Jessica.
Molina was on a mission to claim the Home Run Derby title from Baez, who won it in 2015. But Baez wasn't giving up that easy, mashing 30 homers in the first round alone to put on a show for the fans at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Then, MLB's longest-tenured Puerto Rican player made a comeback, winning the batting title and celebrating both as a host and victor of the event.
Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quinones, and salsa singer Victor Santiango kept the party rolling by belting out the Puerto Rican and U.S. national anthems, respectively. The 402 Civil Affairs Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve presented the nation's colors on the field.
Local celebrities Raymond Arrieta, Alexandra Fuentes, Jay Fonseca, Willito Otero, Rosko Jaime, Norwill Fragoso, Joealis Filippetti, Jaime Espinal, Adriana Díaz, Mónica Pastrana, Saudi Rivera, Danilo Beauchamp, Dimary Castro, Molusco, Mimi Pabón, José "El Negro" Figueroa, Gredmarie Colon, Denise Quiñones, Miguel Morales, Stephanie Del Valle and Patricia Corcino joined Team Rubio for the Celebrity Softball Game.
Admission was free to the Yadier Molina Home Run Derby & Celebrity Softball Game. The gates opened at 10 a.m., and the lines began outside the stadium at 5 a.m. The event was organized by MDR Sports Management, the agency that represents Yadier Molina and is owned by agent Melvin Román.
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.