BALTIMORE -- This holiday season, a cause very close to the Orioles was spotlighted as Major League Baseball's third annual Winter Meetings auction raised more than $175,000 for LUNGevity in memory of former public relations director Monica Barlow.
It was the most profitable auction -- started by the clubs' PR departments -- held to date for MLB and again spotlighted the importance of funding research for lung cancer, which causes more deaths per year than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
"You realize how much baseball impacts so many people's lives and you see baseball taking on the onus of giving back to it," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter at the auction's unveiling. "Think about every life Monica impacted in her short time, and now she's able to impact so many other people. That would mean a lot to her. She wouldn't be happy about the attention, as you all well know."
Barlow, 36, was a non-smoker who passed away in February and her death continues to resonate among the Orioles -- and the baseball community in general -- in helping aid research. Barlow's Tribute Fund on LUNGevity's website has raised nearly $58,000 and donations can be made here.
Monica's husband, Ben, described his wife as "a tremendously private person," focused on doing her job correctly, so, "she's ticked off somewhere right now."
"As time went on, she realized the benefit of her public position," Barlow added. "Even though she was a private person, she really could work to make a difference for other people dealing with cancer, specifically lung cancer, and their families."
The O's also held the 36th annual OriolesREACH Holiday Party for Kids at the Dave & Buster's in Arundel Mills Mall last week. The event featured Showalter, current players Steve Pearce and Brad Brach, former O's Al Bumbry, Dave Johnson and Scott McGregor as well as 80 students from Baltimore's Callaway Elementary School.
The children played games and were served lunch by the players, with a special visit from MASN's Tom Davis as Santa.
So, while the Orioles' shopping list this winter is far from completed -- particularly with the losses of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz -- the current club has done its fair share in spreading holiday cheer.