LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Three media relations staffers on three Major League teams have had various levels of treatment for cancer in the last several years, sparking the baseball world to rally around them as they continue their hard-fought journeys.
With the disease hitting so close to home, the media relations departments for all 30 teams decided to parlay their direct access to the biggest names in baseball to do some good in the ongoing fight to eradicate cancer. They created the MLB.com Stand Up To Cancer online auction, offering over-the-top, eye-popping prizes to the highest bidders.
Considering that one of those afflicted with the disease works for the Orioles -- PR director Monica Barlow -- it is only fitting the Baltimore organization's offerings are garnering some of the auction's highest bids. Mets media relations staffer Shannon Forde and Cardinals PR veteran Melody Yount also have had extensive cancer treatments in the last several years.
After two days of bidding, the meet and greet with O's manager Buck Showalter, which also includes a behind-the-scenes clubhouse tour, access to Showalter's pregame and postgame media sessions, batting practice viewing and four box seat tickets, had garnered 11 bids, with the highest coming in at $1,131.
Chris Davis, last season's MLB home run champion and leading All-Star vote getter, will show up at the school of one lucky kid for a lunch or a classroom visit. So far, that has generated nine bids, the highest being $780.
The Orioles memorabilia package, which includes a Manny Machado game-used bat, an Adam Jones autographed game-used road batting helmet, Jim Johnson's game-used and autographed spikes from his 50th save, Davis' game-used cracked bat from his franchise-record-setting 53-homer season, a pink Mother's Day autographed Showalter baseball and an Orioles jersey autographed by top prospect Dylan Bundy, was going for $1,580 after five bids.
The MLB.com Auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer is part of a much larger initiative that MLB has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Public relations representatives from all 30 clubs were inspired to act based on individual club members affected by the disease, and they jointly organized the auction.
Barlow was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in September 2009. She is a 36-year-old non-smoker who credits research with keeping her alive, and the O's -- along with every other club in baseball -- are offering fantastic opportunities for fans to help.
Bidding closes at 10 p.m. ET Thursday with 80 baseball-related experiences ranging from private pitching and batting lessons with players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides and meet-and-greets with Hall of Fame players.
Last year, the auction raised more than $150,000. Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs are the founding partners of Stand Up To Cancer and a lead donor since 2008, committing more than $40 million. As the initiative's founding donor, MLB has collaborated with Stand Up To Cancer on significant awareness-building efforts, including public service announcements, in-stadium promotion and fundraising events, and a World Series game has been dedicated to the initiative for each of the past three years.
Every team has donated at least one item or experience, with most teams offering multiple donations.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. Brittany Ghiroli contributed to this report. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.