Clubhouse managers go to B.A.T. for great cause

July 28th, 2023

Clubhouse managers have been supporting baseball players since the game's inception. During All-Star Week in Seattle earlier this month, the MLB Clubhouse Managers Association once again displayed its support for players as well as so many others in the baseball community.

Prior to the Home Run Derby on July 10, the MLBCMA presented a donation of $250,000 to the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.). It is one of the largest donations B.A.T. has received from a single organization, said executive director Erik Nilsen.

"It’s going to have an extreme impact on a number of families who have come upon hard times, had some bad luck, are looking for a little jumpstart to get back to being self-sufficient or get back to being where they were before a catastrophic event," Nilsen said of the contribution, which will be paid out over five years.

B.A.T. has spent more than three decades helping members of the baseball family who require financial, physical, medical or psychological help and have nowhere else to turn. It assists players, coaches, trainers, scouts, umpires, select family members and clubhouse managers, among others.

"We can pick up a phone, we can call B.A.T., and B.A.T. is going to be there for us," said MLBCMA president and Yankees director of clubhouse operations Lou Cucuzza Jr. "We said, ‘Let’s help them as much as we can because, god forbid, if we need it or a family member needs it or somebody else in a particular organization needs it, I think we can get more bang for our buck giving it to B.A.T.'"

MLBCMA president Lou Cucuzzo Jr. (far left) and B.A.T. executive director Erik Nilsen (second from the right) were present for the donation presentation prior to the 2023 Home Run Derby at T-Mobile Park.

This isn't the first donation to come from the MLBCMA, which gave $100,000 to B.A.T. in 2019. The strong bond between the two organizations began to forge back in 2013, when one of the Yankees' part-time clubhouse managers was diagnosed with cancer and needed assistance paying for treatment. At the time, B.A.T. awarded grants to only full-time employees, but Cucuzza said that once B.A.T. became aware of the issue, it changed its procedures to cover both part-time and full-time clubhouse employees and still does so today.

"That’s when I said, ‘You know what? We have to be part of this mission with B.A.T.’ They do such a wonderful job," Cucuzza said. "And having a close relationship with them, we know that money is going where it needs to go."

The bulk of donations to B.A.T. come from players, coaches and front office employees during the organization's annual Spring Training fundraising tour. That's when members of all MLB clubs pledge a portion of their salary to B.A.T., which set a record this year with $3.8 million raised during Spring Training.

Nilsen said B.A.T. also received $193,000 from fines in 2022. So, the next time your favorite manager gets ejected from a game, their penalty might just become the next charitable donation.

"During Spring Training," Nilsen said, "the managers will really say, 'If I get tossed from a game ... you’ll be getting a little bit more money from me throughout the rest of the year,'"

Since the beginning of 2020, B.A.T. has provided more than $15 million in assistance to more than 5,000 applicants. Major League Baseball covers all of the organization's overhead expenses, allowing every dollar raised -- including this generous gift from the MLB Clubhouse Managers Association -- to go directly to those who need it most.

"Our board is just so thankful for the contributions that [the MLBCMA] send our way and everything else that they do for us," Nilsen said. "Not only just with this money, but the relationship that they help us form with the players. Because of that, too, we’re able to raise a ton of money during Spring Training."