Legends for Youth Dinner on tap in New York
Orioles' Jones to be honored; Heart and Hustle Award to be announced
NEW YORK -- Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, Dodgers legend Carl Erskine and former manager Bobby Valentine will be honored at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's 16th annual Legends for Youth Dinner on Tuesday night at Capitale in Manhattan, starting a busy week in MLB's gala-event season.
The Legends for Youth Dinner recognizes players for their accomplishments on the diamond coupled with their contributions in the community. Proceeds from the fundraiser go to the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, a series of free clinics designed to provide children with positive role models, teach fundamentals and promote the sport.
Joining the honorees in attendance will be Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Brooks Robinson, current players Brandon Crawford, Ian Desmond, DJ LeMahieu, James McCann and Anthony Rizzo, as well as former MLB players Gary Bell, Brian Boehringer, Jim Bouton, Fred Cambria, Tony Clark, Ron Darling, Orestes Destrade, John Doherty, John Franco, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Tom Grieve, Jeffrey Hammonds, Rich Hand, Jim Hannan, Tom House, Al Leiter, Joe Mahoney, Brian McRae, Jerry Moses, Dale Murphy, Mike Myers, Randy Niemann, Desi Relaford, Ron Robinson, Steve Rogers, John Stearns, José Valdivielso, Fred Valentine, Jon Warden and Mookie Wilson.
"Thanks to the patronage at this event, we're able next year do 151 clinics in eight countries and over 15,000 kids will get instruction from former Major Leaguers for free," said MLBPAA CEO Dan Foster. "We're not looking for the next superstar, we're trying to give every kid who wants it a fun baseball experience. It doesn't happen without current and former players in attendance here, donating their time to make this positive experience for everybody."
The National Heart and Hustle Award winner will be announced at this dinner. The MLBPAA has already named one winner for each of the 30 MLB clubs, and per custom they bring in multiple candidates for the presentation to the overall winner.
The offseason dinner circuit is a big tradition in baseball, and they are well into motion now following events last week to honor Jorge Posada, Paul O'Neill and Alex Rodriguez at the Lou Gehrig Sports Awards Benefit that raised $1.4 million for the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, and to honor Vin Scully with the George H.W. Bush Distinguished Alumnus Award by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.
After the MLBPAA event, the schedule continues on Thursday night at Cipriani in Manhattan with the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation's 13th annual Celebrity Gala & After Party -- an event that has helped Torre's foundation reach more than 50,000 children in his quest to help children who are impacted by violence in their homes, schools and communities. It is moved to a new location this year, and this one will honor David Cone, with a typical long list of celebs, including former Yankees Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams.
Following that on Friday night will be the Rawlings Gold Glove Dinner at The Plaza in Manhattan, where players collect their hardware and two Platinum Glove Award winners will be named.
Robinson, the 18-time All-Star and a 16-time Gold Glove Award winner throughout his 23-year career with the Orioles, served as president of the MLBPAA since 1988 and has dedicated his time and efforts to bettering the lives of children and communities through the Legends for Youth Clinic Series. In receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at last year's Legends for Youth Dinner, Robinson said the MLBPAA was created because so many past players would "leave baseball and fall through the cracks and never be heard from again."
"We didn't want that," Robinson said. "We wanted to be a group where we could piggyback off one another, knowing what each other was doing. That's the reason that the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association has been around for so long. We've got a lot of wonderful fans, and that is really where my heart lies. I've had a great friendship with so many players through the association, and I just appreciate this very much."