SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Billy Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and a slew of other Cactus Leaguers stayed up way past their typical Spring Training bedtimes on Thursday for a good cause.Hamilton, Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon were among the ballplayers slinging drinks at the eighth annual Celebrity Bartender Night in Scottsdale
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Billy Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and a slew of other Cactus Leaguers stayed up way past their typical Spring Training bedtimes on Thursday for a good cause.
Hamilton, Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon were among the ballplayers slinging drinks at the eighth annual Celebrity Bartender Night in Scottsdale to benefit Amyloidosis Support Groups and Cruz's Boomstick23 Foundation. They gathered to support Erica Brooks, whose firm Issues Concerning Athletes finds temporary housing for many of the Major Leaguers who spend February and March in Arizona, and whose father passed away from the rare disease amyloidosis.
"It means a lot to me, it means a lot to Erica and her family," said Hamilton, who has been attending since at least 2014. "I feel like every year it gets better and better."
Amyloidosis is an incurable disease in which an abnormal protein builds up in a person's organs. It can cause heart, liver and kidney damage and can result in death.
"I do housing for them, but this is where I get rewarded," Brooks said. "I can give back to my community, give back to people who are suffering from the same disease my father passed from. I can't say enough -- it's so rewarding to raise money and bring awareness to a very rare disease that is [often] misdiagnosed."
Cruz added additional weight to this year's event by involving his Boomstick 23 Foundation, which focuses on youth sports and education.
"Where we're coming from, we know the importance of giving back," said Cruz. "I learned it from my dad. Any cause that I can help, especially stuff like this, I'm glad to do it."
Even if that meant staying up late on a work night.
"At first I wasn't sure I would see that many players," Cruz said. "But I talked to my teammates and they all said, 'If you say it, I'll be there.' I couldn't be more thankful."
"Guys don't have to do it," Hamilton said, "but they're taking time to come out for this beautiful cause. I appreciate every guy coming out."
Did he have any advice for the first-time bartenders?
"If it's more than four words, don't make it," Hamilton said. "Make simple drinks."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.