Major Leaguers serve up drinks for charity
Players get behind the bar for fourth annual Celebrity Bartending Night
Not all good things in baseball happen on the diamond.
Several Major Leaguers took a break from the trials and tribulations of Spring Training to give back to the community and join Baseball Prospectus, Issues Concerning Athletes and MiCamp Merchant Services at the fourth-annual Celebrity Bartending Night at American Junkie in Scottsdale, Ariz., benefiting Amyloidosis Support Groups on Saturday night.
Amyloidosis is a group of diseases in which one or more organ systems in the body accumulate deposits of abnormal proteins. It can cause heart, liver and kidney damage which can result in death.
The condition recently claimed the lives of former Braves first baseman and 1984 first-round Draft pick Drew Denson at the age of 48, as well as the father of the founder of Issues Concerning Athletes, Erica Brooks.
"The charity this year is very dear to my heart," Brooks said. "It's really important to get people to understand what the symptoms are, to get them checked and have awareness. That's my goal."
The event was emceed by former D-backs play-by-play announcer Daron Sutton, who was honored to be a part of the activities.
"It was important for me to educate myself on this rare illness that a lot of people battle through," Sutton said. "To have [Erica] grab the reins of this thing [and say], 'We know it's a disease that affects 3,000 people in the Unites States that have been diagnosed annually. We want to help those who lost their lives like my father.' That's what touched me the most."
The players involved in Saturday's event were touched by Erica's story, as well, and were eager to help the realtor that assists them in finding homes in Arizona for Spring Training.
"I did it last year and I saw how good of a crowd they had for such a great cause," Giants pitcher George Kontos said. "It was an honor when they asked me to do it, and I was glad to come back and do it a second year."
After the toasts to those who lost their battle with Amyloidosis ended, the players entered an unfamiliar realm -- masquerading as bartenders for the night.
"This is awful, I'm terrible at it," Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish joked. "I panic every time somebody talks to me."
Others struggled with more than just making the drinks.
"I'm short," White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. "Hardly anybody can see me behind the bar."
Some players had a bit more success -- Padres pitcher Casey Kelly, in particular.
"It seems like Casey has been doing this for a little while," Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton said. "I come here and don't know what to do, but he starts right away and I'm following him a little bit. It seems like he's got it down pat."
Once the players got the hang of it, they were serving drinks like pros and began to look at the event in a broader context.
"It's about life being short and enjoying everything," Kalish said. "Whenever we talk about people dying, you've just got to enjoy each and every day -- not look too far ahead or too far behind, stay really present in the moment."
While it was not a night for statistics, the folks at Baseball Prospectus playfully pondered how analytics could be used to determine which player was the best bartender.
"Whoever puts the most alcohol in the drink, that would be the stat," Baseball Prospectus prospect writer Chris Mellen said.
In the end, Saturday's event was a combination of reflection and recreation -- raising money for a charitable cause, while professional athletes gained a new respect for their local bartender.