NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Major League Baseball and all of its 30 clubs have embarked on a project unique enough in nature to require some eye-popping ammunition that will surely grab the attention of the vast fan base.
The mission is to raise funds for their nationwide Stand Up To Cancer initiative, and to support this very worthwhile cause, teams have gone way past the point of normalcy.
A massive nationwide auction is currently taking place on MLB.com, an unprecedented venture that will benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which Major League Baseball has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Bidding is open until 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday at MLB.com Auction.
No, this isn't your garden-variety, "bid on this cool hat!" auction. The prizes are off the charts and probably can be considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (although presumably, this auction will be such a success that it will become a yearly venture).
Take, for instance, the Red Sox offerings:
Three innings behind the Green Monster with the opportunity to watch batting practice and meet a Red Sox player. The package includes four infield grandstand tickets.
Lunch for four with manager John Farrell in the Red Sox clubhouse.
A copy of the Fenway 100 book signed by Red Sox Hall of Famer Jim Rice.
As of 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Green Monster Experience garnered 10 bids, the highest being $602. The highest bid for lunch with Farrell is, so far, $675, while the Fenway 100 book has received a bid of $120.
"I think it's a great idea," Farrell said. "Anytime you can provide access maybe to an area where people in the general public don't have the ability to access, I think it's kind of a cool thing. They can come into a clubhouse, sit down, whether it's over a sandwich or whatever it might be to talk over the inner workings or the day to day what we go through."
It takes just a few minutes, Farrell added, to do something that can have such far-reaching benefits.
"Personally, having had cancer affect those around me, this is an easy thing to get involved with and attach yourself to and give back in a very small way," he said. "For all of us that wear a Major League uniform, there's an inherent responsibility, to some of the social things, the health things or whatever the cause might be, that we can attach ourselves to with very little commitment in terms of time. But the impact it may have may be 100 times greater."
There never has been an auction quite like MLB.com/SU2C Auction, and that is mainly the result of club PR directors who got together on a mission that is very personal in nature. Many of them work with club personnel who have been diagnosed with cancer, and this became a unified effort to use their unique access and list at least 70 items that almost make it hard to choose.
The auction includes participation via meet-and-greet and/or autographed items from 16 Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Orlando Cepeda, Andre Dawson, Carlton Fisk, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Rice and Nolan Ryan. Three others honored at Cooperstown have agreed to lend their involvement: broadcasting award winners Denny Matthews and Vin Scully, as well as Roland Hemond, 2011 recipient of the Hall's Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Meet-and-greets or unique experiences were donated by at least 15 current or former All-Stars: Don Baylor, Kirk Gibson, Rick Honeycutt, Tim Hudson, Craig Kimbrel, Brian McCann, Charles Nagy, Giancarlo Stanton and 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout -- in addition to Bronson Arroyo, Tyler Clippard, Evan Longoria, Hunter Pence, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki.
Listed are autographed items from more of the game's best current and former players, including Jeff Bagwell, Jose Bautista, Craig Biggio, Miguel Cabrera, Adam Dunn, Todd Helton, Felix Hernandez, Chipper Jones, Paul Konerko, Dale Murphy and Frank Thomas.
The organizers are also asking all 30 managers to sign baseballs, which will be auctioned off at a later date.