Brewers help launch LUNGevity auction initiative

Brewers help launch LUNGevity auction initiative

SAN DIEGO -- When Brewers bullpen coach Lee Tunnell learned of Major League Baseball's latest Stand Up To Cancer initiative on Monday, it struck a personal chord. His mother, Jeanie, passed away earlier this year after a long battle with the disease.

"To think about the possibility of having people with you longer, that would be the greatest gift anybody could give," Tunnell said. "For baseball to be willing to pull some of the load is just unbelievable."

For the third straight year, MLB, MLB Advanced Media (the parent company of MLB.com), MLB Network and all 30 clubs have organized a Winter Meetings charity auction with a slew of baseball experiences and rare items that will raise funds for cancer research. The money will be donated to LUNGevity, the largest national lung-cancer-focused nonprofit, in memory of the late Baltimore Orioles public-relations director Monica Barlow, who battled lung cancer until her passing in February.

In a show of solidarity, Brewers media-relations director Mike Vassallo and his colleagues from around the league helped launch the initiative on Monday. The auction was to begin at 11 p.m. CT and will be live on MLB.com until Thursday at 10 p.m. CT.

The Brewers have three experiences up for bid:

-- Meet Bob Uecker and Take Home His Game-Worn Sweater: The package includes four field-level tickets, a chance to watch batting practice on the field pregame and a visit with Uecker in the radio booth. Uecker will present the winning bidder with his very own game-worn sweater, donned by the Hall of Fame broadcaster on the air.

-- Calling all dog lovers -- meet Hank: The winning bidder will take photos on the field with Hank, the Ballpark Pup, the living mascot who captured the hearts of fans worldwide when he wandered into Brewers Spring Training earlier this year. The package also includes a game-worn Jim Henderson home Brewers jersey, plus a dog jersey worn by Hank and four tickets to a game.

-- Private Pottery-Making Session with Scooter Gennett: According to the auction site, "Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett is an artist at heart and he wants to share his talents with you. Over the years, Scooter has become something of an expert in making pottery. You and three friends will join Scooter at a local Milwaukee area pottery studio where you will spend an evening on a mutually-agreed date making your own pottery." The winner also get tickets to a Brewers home game and a $200 gift card to any local SURG Restaurants.

Around the league, other items up for bid include the opportunity to play golf with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, bring a Phillie to work, be an A's intern, a Rays clubhouse attendant or a Marlins batboy or batgirl for the day, pitching lessons with CC Sabathia or Dwight Gooden, and to have Hall of Famer Tony La Russa manage your child's Little League team.

Tunnell, who also lost a grandfather to cancer, was 10 years old when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Harsh courses of radiation therapy took a toll on her skin, so when doctors discovered another mass in her chest several years ago, they were unable to operate.

Jeanie Tunnell passed away on April 14.

"Whether they find cures for cancer or just better treatments," Lee Tunnell said, "it can mean the difference between losing someone you love or having another Christmas with them."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.