SAN DIEGO -- For the past eight seasons, Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs have held a unique online auction during the Winter Meetings that offers once-in-a-lifetime fan experiences, all in the name of charity.
The prizes awarded go beyond the standard signed baseballs and jerseys or tickets to a game. The 2019 Winter Meetings Charity Auction, coordinated by the public relations directors for each team -- all of whom have a direct line to their players -- is designed to take fans places where they've never been. Inside the broadcast booth, for example, or on the field -- not just to watch batting practice, but, in some cases, to actually play catch with a Major Leaguer, or hit in the cage with a player.
• Bid now: MLB Winter Meetings Auction
The auction has raised nearly $1.5 million since its inception in 2012. Proceeds have been distributed over the years to several causes, and this year, the money will go toward five entities that are committed to raising awareness, funding research and providing the best possible care for both caregivers and patients of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease."
One of those organizations is ALS CURE Project, founded by A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty and his dad, Mike. This group is focused on providing incentive-based research grants in an effort to find a cure for ALS. Stephen Piscotty lost his mother, Gretchen, to the disease in 2018.
Stephen Piscotty, who participated in a news conference Monday at the Winter Meetings headquarters in San Diego, said their foundation recently received 501(c)(3) non-profit certification, and he expressed appreciation to MLB for selecting ALS causes as the beneficiary of this year's auction.
"Funding is not always there and strides can be made," Piscotty said. "Our organization is thankful for being part of this and receiving benefits. Our mission is pretty simple -- find a cure. But it's not an easy task. ALS space hasn't seen new advances that we think it can. We're hopeful that with hard work and dedication, we can get there."
A full listing of Winter Meetings auction prizes can be found at MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction. The auction is live now and runs until Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.
Each of MLB’s 30 clubs are auctioning off items, with a breakdown below:
• Meet Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar
• Ride in the bullpen cart for a game
• Take in batting practice with shortstop and National League Gold Glove Award winner Nick Ahmed and attend a game with four tickets in lower-level box seats
• Earn a 2020 promotional package, which includes bobbleheads, T-shirts and other assorted giveaways, as well as two tickets to a regular-season game
• One winner will get the chance to be a broadcaster for a day, getting a behind-the-scenes look at the club’s local broadcast partners and access to a pregame TV hit from the field
• One winning bidder will get the chance to take part in Alumni Weekend from Aug. 14-16, with exclusive on-field and dugout access
• Golf with Hall of Famers Chipper Jones and John Smoltz for a day in the Atlanta area
• Lunch with All-Star starting pitcher John Means prior to a night game at a Baltimore-area restaurant
• Receive autographed baseballs signed by Hall of Famers Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson
• An exclusive behind-the-scenes experience at Oriole Park at Camden Yards ahead of a home game, including watching manager Brandon Hyde's pregame press conference, watching batting practice from the field, visiting the press box, the MASN television booth, the Orioles Radio Network booth, the MASN television production truck, the Orioles scoreboard production room, and watching an inning of the game with executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias in his suite
Boston Red Sox
• A winning bid will allow one child (ages 6-13) to earn the chance to announce a Red Sox batter during a Sunday home game
• Two tickets to see a concert at Fenway Park from the Dell EMC Club
• A winning bid will allow one child (under age 12) the chance to be a coach’s assistant for a home game, with the opportunity to present the lineup card to umpires
Chicago White Sox
• Change the base during the fourth inning of a regular-season home game and receive four Gold Box tickets and parking, plus a premium gift bag
• Meet the White Sox broadcast team
• Take in a VIP outing with the chance to watch batting practice and meet star third baseman Yoan Moncada
• Earn four lower-bowl tickets, watch batting practice on the field and spend an inning in the press box meeting Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper, Jim Deshaies, Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer
• Dream Day at the Confines -- receive four lower-bowl tickets to a mutually agreed upon game, in addition to the opportunity to watch batting practice from the field with four pregame field passes and an assortment of Cubs giveaway items from 2020.
• Catch in the Confines -- play catch in Wrigley Field's outfield for 30 minutes prior to a night game
• Take BP off Ryan Dempster at Wrigley -- receive four lower-bowl tickets to a mutually agreed upon game, in addition to the opportunity to take batting practice off the former Cubs pitcher
• Play catch with Michael Lorenzen -- receive four tickets and play catch with Reds two-way star Lorenzen while taking photos and getting autographs from him
• Reds reporter for a day -- receive a media credential for the day, which provides access to the Reds' clubhouse, press box and dining room, and attend manager David Bell’s pregame press conference
• BP visit with Indians All-Star Francisco Lindor -- winning bidder and three guests will get the opportunity to watch batting practice on the field before a game and meet Lindor
• Meet-and-greet with Terry Francona -- receive four tickets to a game and a meet-and-greet with the manager during the 2020 season
• Opening Day experience -- receive four field-box tickets to Opening Day, plus four passes to visit the field and dugout during pregame and a visit to the home radio booth during the game
• Spring Training VIP experience with Sam Hilliard -- take a tour of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the Rockies’ outfielder
• Lunch with Bridich and Black -- eat lunch in the Coors Field home clubhouse dining room with general manager Jeff Bridich and manager Bud Black
• VIP Experience at Coors Field -- take a tour of the Coors Field press box and broadcast booths, plus watch batting practice from the field
• Watch a game from Gardy's Suite -- take in a home Tigers game from the private suite of manager Ron Gardenhire, and take the field for batting practice with up to 18 guests
• Meet a Tiger Experience -- receive four tickets to a mutually agreed upon game, plus parking in the Tigers Garage and four passes to watch batting practice on the field, where the winner and his/her guests will meet a Tigers player
• Meet-and-greet with an Astros All-Star -- receive four Field Level Tickets and the opportunity to watch batting practice from the field, where the winning bidder will meet an Astros All-Star
Kansas City Royals
• Spring Training meet-and-greet and VIP Experience -- receive four tickets to a Spring Training game and a meet-and-greet with manager Mike Matheny, GM Dayton Moore and select players
• Pitching lesson with Brad Keller -- enjoy a personal bullpen session with Royals pitcher Keller
Los Angeles Angels
• Mike Trout meet-and-greet -- the winning bidder and three guests will receive parking, tickets on the club level, a visit to watch batting practice on the field and the opportunity to meet 2019 American League MVP Award winner Trout
• Shohei Ohtani meet-and-greet -- the winning bidder and three guests will receive parking, tickets on the club level, a visit to watch batting practice on the field and the opportunity to meet 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner Ohtani
• Throw a ceremonial first pitch -- the winner will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the April 21 game vs. Baltimore
Los Angeles Dodgers
• Dave Roberts Experience -- receive four tickets to a mutually agreed upon game and the opportunity to sit next to the Dodgers manager in the dugout during his pregame media session in Los Angeles
• Spring Training Bat Boy/Bat Girl Experience -- serve as the bat boy/girl for a game at the Dodgers' Spring Training home in Glendale, Ariz.
• Lunch with Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser -- The winning bidder and a guest will join the Dodgers broadcasters for lunch at Dodger Stadium
• All-Star package with Alcantara, Mattingly and Sanchez -- receive four tickets to a game and passes to watch batting practice from the field, have lunch with 2019 All-Star Sandy Alcantara, receive a 30-minute hitting lesson with six-time All-Star and Marlins manager Don Mattingly (ages 12-18) and receive a private tour of the FOX Sports Florida broadcast booth
• Virtual Home Run Derby Experience -- play against two Marlins players in a best-of-five-round tournament at the VR Home Run Derby Station at Marlins Park
• BP with Keston Hiura -- meet Hiura and watch batting practice from the field
• Media Member for a Day -- sit in on manager Craig Counsell's pregame media availability in the dugout and postgame media availability in the interview room, watch batting practice from the field, have dinner in the media dining room and meet the team's broadcasters
• A day with Hrbie -- spend a day at Target Field with two-time World Series champion and Minnesota Twins great Kent Hrbek
• Trevor May Gaming Experience -- go inside a Major League clubhouse and spend time gaming with e-sports star and Minnesota Twins reliever May
New York Mets
• Meet-and-greet with Pete Alonso -- meet National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Alonso and take pictures/get autographs from him prior to a home game
• Meet manager Carlos Beltrán -- meet Mets manager and legendary player Beltrán and take pictures/get autographs from him prior to a home game
• Dinner with Cohen, Hernandez & Darling -- have dinner in the media dining center with SNY's Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling prior to a home game
New York Yankees
• Judge's Chambers Package -- receive four tickets to sit in the Judge's Chambers and four batting practice passes, including the opportunity to meet select player(s) and a baseball signed by Aaron Judge
• Yankees personalized video greetings -- receive five personalized 15-second video messages from a selection of Yankees to be recorded near the start of 2020 Spring Training
• Spring Training Package -- receive four tickets to a mutually agreed upon Spring Training home game at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., plus four batting practice passes, including meet-and-greets with select players
• Sit in Brian Cashman's box -- enjoy a 2020 regular-season game in the private box of Yankees GM Cashman, who will visit with the winner pregame
• Hitting lesson with Ramón Laureano -- receive a hitting lesson for a child (age 8-18) from A's outfielder Laureano prior to a home game
• Pregame meet-and-greet with Stephen Piscotty -- watch batting practice from the field and meet Piscotty prior to a home game
• Foursome in the ALS CURE Golf Tournament -- play in the annual ALS Cure golf tournament on May 18, 2020, at Orinda Country Club
• Phillies Phestival Experience -- receive VIP access at Phillies Phestival, the team's annual autograph and auction party to #StrikeOutALS, scheduled for May 7 at Citizen's Bank Park
• Shoot hot dogs with the Phillie Phanatic during a 2020 regular-season game
• Lunch with Joe Musgrove -- join pitcher Musgrove for lunch on a mutually agreed upon day during the 2020 season
• Meet manager Derek Shelton -- meet the new Pirates' manager and receive four passes to watch batting practice from the field
• Suite for a game -- receive a suite for 15 people to a mutually agreed upon game in 2020
San Diego Padres
• #BrownIsBack -- receive a personalized Padres replica jersey from the club's recently unveiled new brown and gold color scheme
• Tatis Time -- receive four field-level tickets and four batting practice passes to a mutually agreed upon regular-season home game, and take part in a meet-and-greet with Padres superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
• Suite Spot Package -- enjoy a Padres regular-season home game from the comfort of their own luxury suite at Petco Park
San Francisco Giants
• Serve as a Balldude or Balldudette at Oracle Park, fielding foul balls down the first- or third-base line while wearing a full Giants uniform
• Autographed lithograph of Willie Mays and Dwight Clark
• Game-used base from Giants vs. Yankees -- receive a game-used base from April 27, 2019, between the Giants and Yankees played at Oracle Park
• Social Media Staff for a Day -- join the Mariners' social media team for a mutually agreed upon game in 2020
• Pitching Clinic at T-Mobile Park -- take to the bullpen at T-Mobile Park to throw under the watchful eyes of Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth and bullpen coach Brian DeLunas
• Batting practice visit -- watch batting practice from the field and receive four tickets to a game in Section 128
St. Louis Cardinals
• Mike Shildt package -- receive a signed baseball from 2019 NL Manager of the Year Award winner Shildt and an opportunity to sit in on his postgame press conference
• Autographed All-Star jersey -- receive an authentic 2020 NL All-Star jersey signed by the St. Louis Cardinals 2020 All-Star representatives
• London Series signed baseball -- receive an authentic 2020 London Series baseball signed by members of the Cardinals
Tampa Bay Rays
• Bullpen Day with bullpen coach Stan Boroski -- throw a bullpen session pregame in the Rays bullpen with instruction from Boroski, meet members of the Rays' bullpen and get a tour of the Rays' private bullpen lounge
• Rays Radio Broadcaster for a Day -- meet Rays radio broadcasters Andy Freed and Dave Wills and join them for a private pregame interview session with manager Kevin Cash
• Team photographer for a day -- spend a day shadowing the Rays team photographer and shoot from a photo well next to the dugout
• The Broadcaster's Dream -- receive two tickets to a mutually agreed upon 2020 Rangers home game with parking and the opportunity to meet Emily Jones, visit the field for batting practice, attend manager Chris Woodward's pregame interview with Eric Nadel, eat dinner in the press lounge and spend an inning in the TV and radio booth
• Rangers VIP Experience -- receive four tickets and an on-site tour of new Globe Life Field and the opportunity to watch batting practice on the field
• Golf with Pudge Rodriguez -- join National Baseball Hall of Famer and Texas Rangers Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez for lunch and a round of golf at the Texas Rangers Golf Club
Toronto Blue Jays
• Blue Jays on-field experience -- receive four field level tickets to a mutually agreed upon game, four passes to watch batting practice on the field, four Blue Jays caps and four Blue Jays jerseys
• Pitching lesson with Paul Menhart -- receive a 45-minute pitching lesson with pitching coach Menhart
• Family photo with the World Series trophy -- take some family photos with the 2019 World Series championship trophy prior to a mutually agreed upon game during the 2020 regular season
In addition to Piscotty's ALS CURE Project, the other four entities that will receive funding from the auction are:
The Healey Center for ALS at Mass General, selected in support of John Carlin, producer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, who has been supportive of baseball over the years and is living with ALS. The selection was also made in honor of, and in memory of, Pete Frates, whose Ice Bucket Challenge several years ago raised millions. Soon after Monday’s auction announcement, it was revealed that the former Boston College baseball player, who battled ALS for years, passed away from the disease.
The ALS Association, MLB’s most consistent historical partner in the fight against ALS. The selection is also in support of efforts by Jacob Nottingham, a catcher in the Brewers organization, who lost both his grandmother and aunt to ALS.
Project Main Street, which is devoted to patient and family care. This selection was made in support of efforts by ESPN broadcaster Jon Sciambi, a long-time advocate for the ALS cause and emcee of Monday's press conference.
ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI), committed to discovering and developing effective treatments for ALS. This was selected in support of Sam Hilliard, an outfielder in the Rockies organization, whose father was diagnosed with ALS in 2018.
Past Winter Meetings auctions have supported a variety of causes, including lung cancer research in honor and memory of Orioles PR director Monica Barlow, a youth and softball field in memory of Mets PR executive Shannon Forde, a scholarship fund in memory of the late baseball executive Katy Feeney, and support of two iconic institutions -- the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.