Accepting Murcer Award from BAT means a little more to Grifol

August 9th, 2023

CHICAGO – White Sox manager Pedro Grifol was joined by third baseman Yoán Moncada during an on-field pregame ceremony at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night in accepting the Bobby Murcer Award from the Baseball Assistance Team.

This award is presented to both the American League and National League squads donating the most during BAT’s Spring Training fundraising tour of the Cactus League and Grapefruit League. The Padres already were honored as the NL recipient.

It seemed only fitting Grifol was there for the presentation, considering the first-year manager also is in his first year as part of BAT’s board of directors.

“I just asked if I had to do anything and they said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘OK. Just let me be out there and be a part of it,’” said a smiling Grifol. “It’s an honor for me to be out there.”

Grifol had been asked to join the board when he was working with the Royals and had the strong approval of Dayton Moore, Kansas City’s team president at the time. But for whatever reason, it didn’t happen.

“They approached me again this year,” Grifol said. “BAT is an incredible program. It’s a selfless program, it’s a caring program. That’s what this game is all about. When you can put your adversity aside and still help somebody, that’s special in the person’s character.”

“Oh my god. I want to say it’s one of the most amazing things recently. I’m looking forward to it a lot,” said Juliza Gracesqui, the coordinator of marketing and administration for BAT, of Grifol joining the board. “It’s going to be another diverse member in the community on our board. We are very excited.”

Chicago’s connection to BAT goes deeper than Grifol. Charlie Montoyo, in his first year as the White Sox bench coach, and his family dealt with heart problems for his son, Alex, when he was a newborn.

Those issues eventually led Alex from hospitals in Tucson, Ariz., to Phoenix, where he stayed for one month, to UCLA in California, where he underwent a heart transplant. Alex is now a healthy 15-year-old, but at the time, Montoyo was wondering how the family would pay for all the treatment and surgeries as he was working in the Minors.

BAT came through for the Montoyos.

“All the sudden you see all the bills go up,” Montoyo said. “Then they came through, they helped us out a lot. BAT does a lot for a lot of people. I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do. You are thinking about mortgaging the house, and they were awesome to us.”

That transplant was followed by three more surgeries, and BAT was there every time.

“To this day, he’ll tell you that actually saved his family on the financial side,” Grifol said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it. I get great satisfaction [out of] helping people with anything they might need. This is a good way for me to participate.”

Christine O’Reilly-Riordan, the White Sox vice president of community relations, was also in attendance for the presentation involving Kay Murcer and her two grandsons. Eddy Tapia, a manager with the BAT team, also was on hand Tuesday with Gracesqui.

O’Reilly-Riordan is a BAT board member, now joined by Grifol.

“I’ve always wanted to be a part of it and I’m honored,” Grifol said. “Today is the first time I’m going to be a part of something they are doing.”

“We like to call ourselves baseball’s best kept secret,” said Tapia of the organization formed in 1986 by big leaguers to help others in the game. “They wanted to create an organization by the players, for the players, to figure out a way to help get guys back on their feet and make the transition once their playing days were over.”