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Royals pitching in to benefit Stand Up To Cancer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Cancer might be just a word, a terrible word, but just a word -- until it happens to you or someone close to you.

That's what spurred the charity auction benefiting Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) that is being held as part of the annual Winter Meetings. The event was inspired by numerous cases of public relations officials and others in baseball who have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years.

The auction, announced by Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs, will be live on until Thursday at 9:59 p.m. CT.

Available to fans are more than 70 unique experiences, assembled by the club PR directors, including these offered by the Royals:

• Behind the scenes tour of the press box and broadcast booths at Kauffman Stadium. Spend one inning with TV broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler, and one inning with radio broadcasters Denny Matthews and Steve Physioc. You and a friend get to have dinner with Royals broadcasters in the press club. Accompany Mike Swanson, vice president of communications and broadcasting, in the dugout for manager Ned Yost's pregame press conference and watch batting practice. Meet several Royals coaches and players on the field. Experience includes two lower level tickets, one parking pass and an autographed baseball signed by both TV and radio announcers.

• Spring Training behind the scenes experience for four. Travel the back fields on the beautiful Royals Spring Training complex in Surprise, Ariz. Meet and talk baseball with members of the Royals front office, broadcasting team, coaching staff and players. Take a private tour of parts of the Royals facility. Experience includes four tickets for that day's Spring Training game and an autographed ball from several Royals players.

There are other interesting items put up for bidding by other teams, such as:

• Watching three innings of a Red Sox game behind the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

• Lunch with Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.

• A round of golf with Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy.

• A 30-minute guitar lesson from Reds All-Star pitcher Bronson Arroyo.

For a complete list, check out Auctions.

One of the offerings brought back memories: Be a Baltimore Orioles player for a day -- eat with the team, take batting practice and sit in the dugout during a Spring Training game.

In 1967, I was able to become an Orioles player for two weeks of Spring Training, practicing and hanging out with the World Series champions that included Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and a very young Jim Palmer. I was a reporter at The Sporting News at the time and that resulted in a four-part series on what it was like to go through Spring Training.

Now I can still look back on those good times. And all the games covering the Cardinals and guys like Bob Gibson and Ted Simmons, and covering the Royals and guys like George Brett and Frank White. And still look forward to covering more baseball because I overcame cancer.

Not very often did I pay much attention to calls to help in a fight against a disease. But it hit home in 2006 with a diagnosis of three cancerous masses in my liver.

Fortunately, a liver became available and a transplant was performed in 2007. With great support of doctors, the hospital team, my company and especially my wife, I was able to get back to a normal life.

The fight against cancer goes on and it can be won. If an old baseball writer can Stand Up To Cancer, anybody can.

Kansas City Royals