It will be like déjà vu all over again on Jan. 22, when Yogi Berra is the center of attention in New York.
The Baseball Assistance Team will honor the 87-year-old Hall of Famer, longtime Yankees catcher and World War II D-Day veteran at its 24th annual "Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner" at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. The dinner is the largest fundraising event for B.A.T., an organization dedicated to helping members of the baseball family who are in need.
"B.A.T. has helped many members of the baseball family over the years, and that makes this honor really special for me," said Berra, owner of 10 World Series rings. "I'm hoping to see a lot of old friends at the dinner, and if I can help encourage people to donate to this great cause, that's a great thing, too."
"The Baseball Assistance Team is proud to honor the legendary Yogi Berra, whose legacy is one of baseball's greatest treasures," B.A.T. president Gary Thorne said. "Yogi has believed in B.A.T.'s mission from the very beginning. We are pleased to offer fans the opportunity to thank him for all he has given to the great game of baseball, while also having the opportunity to raise money to help others who need help and have nowhere else to turn."
That event will be worth the price of admission just to hear what Berra has to say. After all, he once said, "I never said most of the things I said." So you never know what he might say ... if he said it. And that is just the beginning of the many reasons to be there for this one.
On hand to honor their fellow Cooperstown inductee will be Reggie Jackson, Juan Marichal, Joe Morgan, Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda, Rollie Fingers, Pat Gillick and Jim Palmer.
B.A.T. also will recognize Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana and Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain. Santana will receive the Big B.A.T./Frank Slocum Award for his financial support and generosity to the B.A.T. organization. Chamberlain will receive the Bart Giamatti Award, which is presented annually to an individual in baseball who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late commissioner.
Cookie Rojas will be presented with the Joe Garagiola Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the organization. Chamberlain will also accept the annual American League Bobby Murcer Award on behalf of the Yankees. Luis Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star and current D-backs special assistant to the president, will accept the National League Bobby Murcer Award on behalf of the D-backs players.
The awards are presented to the team in each league whose players commit the most amount of money to B.A.T. during the Spring Training fundraising tour.
A number of Berra's former teammates, as well as several players who played for him during his managing and coaching career will attend the 24th annual event, Yogi's sons Dale Berra (the first player in baseball history to play for his father) and Larry Berra, Jim Bouton, Dr. Bobby Brown, Steve Garvey, Bud Harrelson, Tommy John, Cleon Jones, Ed Kranepool, Phil Linz, Rusty Staub, Ron Swoboda and Bob Watson will be among them.
The list of attendees also includes Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones, Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow, four-time All-Star John Franco, five-time All-Star and 1979 NL Most Valuable Player Keith Hernandez, five-time All-Star Jack Morris and many others.
Fans at this fundraiser are given the opportunity to interact with Hall of Famers and former and current Major League Baseball players while raising money to go toward assisting members of the baseball family who have fallen on hard times. The night's festivities include a cocktail hour at which attendees have the opportunity to meet and receive autographs from legends and Hall of Famers, and players are seated with guests at each table during the dinner. All proceeds from the evening go to B.A.T.
Grammy Award-winning recording artist Chrisette Michele will perform the national anthem prior to the dinner.
B.A.T. was founded in 1986 by former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, a group of former players and MLB. The organization is dedicated to assisting members of the baseball family through financial grants, health-care programs and rehabilitative counseling, with more than $26 million in grants awarded to date benefiting more than 3,000 members of the baseball family who are in need of assistance. All aid provided by B.A.T. is strictly confidential, allowing those in the need to receive help discreetly.
"Players in our era didn't make the multimillions that the guys are making today," Hall of Famer Tom Seaver said at last year's B.A.T. dinner. "There are guys in need that can't be helped, and there is a lot of money in this industry that can be used to support them. They gave their lives to the game that they loved, and they appreciate the help."
In addition to assisting former Major Leaguers, B.A.T. also offers support to former Major League managers, coaches, scouts, umpires, athletic trainers, front-office personnel, Minor League Baseball players and personnel, Negro Leagues players, players from the Women's Professional Baseball League and spouses and children.
For more information about B.A.T., to purchase tickets for the dinner or to make a donation, please phone 212-931-7821 or visit BaseballAssistanceTeam.com.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.