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MLBPAA golf tourney benefits children's health

July 29, 2015

DORAL, Fla. -- Mike Lowell chuckled at how Yankees and Red Sox fans might react to two players from historically bitter rivals teaming up to host a golf tournament, and even having -- gasp -- a few laughs along the way."The fans might not like it, but when they see

DORAL, Fla. -- Mike Lowell chuckled at how Yankees and Red Sox fans might react to two players from historically bitter rivals teaming up to host a golf tournament, and even having -- gasp -- a few laughs along the way.
"The fans might not like it, but when they see what the cause is for, you realize that it's a good thing," Lowell said. "It's nice to see teammates you haven't seen in a while and guys you played against. Today we're all on the same team, doing something good."
Lowell, the MVP of the 2007 World Series with the Red Sox, partnered with retired Yankees catcher Jorge Posada on Friday to host the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Hall of Dreams Celebrity Classic, benefiting the South Miami Hospital's Child Development Center Endowment through the Baptist Health Foundation.
The event took place on the plush greens of the prestigious Trump National Doral Golf Club in Doral, Fla., where nearly 60 retired Major Leaguers -- ranging from former All-Stars and World Series champions to lesser celebrated players and a few who simply enjoyed the proverbial "cup of coffee" in the big leagues -- gathered for an afternoon of golf and charity.
"We wanted to help out here in Miami, and I think it's the perfect venue for us," Posada said. "Me and Mike are partnering to help out Baptist and we're very, very happy that we got a lot of people coming down to a great event and a great day today."
Ask any retired Major League player what he misses most about the game, and aside from the rush felt on a nightly basis from the competition, he'll mostly point to camaraderie among teammates as the biggest void in his post-playing career.
Nothing can recreate that type of everyday togetherness, but this type of tournament gives former players an opportunity relive some of the good old days, through stories and laughs about their days in uniform, whether as teammates or opponents.
"To come and see some of the great ballplayers I played against -- Posada, [Livan] Hernandez ... it just gives you goosebumps," said Lenny Harris, holder of the all-time pinch-hit record. "It's a chance to come out and enjoy ourselves."
The tournament is one of many the MLBPAA organizes each year. They take place in all parts of the country and attract dozens of former players, many of whom are from the area where the tournament is hosted. Friday's gathering included several recognizable names from the 1980s, '90s and 2000s, such as Dennis "El Presidente" Martinez, who is most famous for pitching a perfect game in 1991 for the Montreal Expos.
"The first thing you miss is the competition," Martinez said. "We love to play and compete. The next thing is the camaraderie. That's why it's so nice to come to these events and see so many friends and people you played against."
Heathcliff Slocumb, who enjoyed a 10-year pitching career and was an All-Star in 1995, expressed a similar sentiment.
"We represented different teams and different cities in our careers, but I think when you do events like this, you become the same group, the same family, the same team," he said. "It gives you a chance to reconnect and do something good."
The tournament's main beneficiary, South Miami Hospital's Child Development Center, is widely recognized for providing high-quality services to infants and children who have, or are at risk for, developmental delays or disabilities.
The center's services give children the opportunity to maximize their development potential by working with a staff that specializes in developmental pediatrics and speech, physical and occupational therapy and social work.
Posada and Lowell both worked extensively as active players with charities that help children. Posada's inspiration is his son, who has had multiple surgeries for Craniosynostosis. Lowell, during his own battle with cancer years ago, encountered many children fighting the disease, and the experience left a lasting impact.
The partnership with Baptist Health Foundation was a natural fit.
"What struck me the most is when you see the little kids," Lowell said. "They're so innocent and they're really so strong and you see the parents and how hard it is for them. Any time we can get together as an institution, and do something good, not only does it feel good, but you feel like you're doing something good for other people as well."