Visit part of a series of events for cancer research and awareness
By Mark Newman
NEW YORK -- Commissioner Rob Manfred, Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, Pirates All-Star Andrew McCutchen, Mets legend Jesse Orosco, the entire World Series umpiring crew and Stand Up To Cancer leaders were among a contingent that spent time with kids before Game 3 on Friday at The Tisch Cancer Institute and Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai on New York's Upper East Side.
In addition, the Commissioner, McCutchen and former players made a previously unscheduled visit in a nearby wing to give their best wishes in person to a 21-year-old man who was about to undergo a bone-marrow transplant an hour later as a hopeful life-saving procedure. It was one of the most humbling pregame pep talks imaginable, putting so much into perspective.
"This visit is an example of the good that baseball can do for people," Manfred said during the afternoon visit. "We got a chance to spend some time downstairs with Tom Glavine, Andrew McCutchen, Jesse Orosco and a bunch of children who are here being treated for cancer. It was really a great day to watch the kids interact with our players and former players. It's a reminder of what great human beings they are and how much they give back to their communities."
This community outreach involving longtime partners Major League Baseball and Stand Up To Cancer was part of a day-long series of events around Game 3 (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 ET game time) focused on pediatric cancer research and awareness -- continuing with the traditional in-game moment after the fifth inning during this night's FOX telecast and the unveiling of a new series of public-service announcements featuring Major League players and children fighting cancer.
Dignitaries at Mount Sinai also included Vera Clemente, MLB Goodwill Ambassador and wife of the late Roberto Clemente; Mets executive vice president Lou DePaoli; Dr. Steven Burakoff, Lillian and Henry M. Stratton Professor of Cancer Medicine and Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute; Dr. Lisa Satlin, Herbert H. Lehman Professor and System Chair of the Jack and Lucy Clark Department of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Health System and Pediatrician-in-Chief of the Kravis Children's Hospital; SU2C President & CEO Sung Poblete and SU2C co-founders Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Kathleen Lobb and Lisa Paulsen.
In an earlier event at Mount Sinai, the full World Series umpiring crew also met with young patients and families, offering pre-made Build-A-Bear Workshop stuffed animals to them to choose their favorites. The umpires also visited rooms for kids who were not able to be at the event. This effort was made possible by UMPS CARE Charities, a nonprofit organization founded by MLB Umpires to enrich the lives of at-risk youth and children coping with serious illness.
"This is very important," said Glavine, who spent most of his career with Atlanta but led the Mets to their previous postseason appearance in 2006. "My wife and I do a lot of stuff with childhood cancer back in Atlanta, so to have the opportunity to do it here and certainly with the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, it's a big deal and we are happy to be a part of it.
"When you come out to these hospitals and visit with these kids, you're always, I guess a little bit trepid, because you don't know what they're going to be feeling or what they're going to be doing, but you always seem to walk out with your spirits lifted because the kids are amazing. ... You don't ever erase what they are going through, but if for a minute or two you can put a smile on their faces, that's what it's all about."
Since SU2C's launch in 2008, MLB has provided year-round promotional support, including featured spotlights during the World Series, the All-Star Game and many other individual games and activities throughout the year. MLB and its 30 clubs are the founding donors of SU2C, committing nearly $40 million to date to SU2C's innovative cancer research, and fans can join in by donating now at SU2C.org.
"Commissioner [Bud] Selig initially established the relationship with Stand Up To Cancer," Manfred said. "We feel that their approach to research is really groundbreaking, and we feel that the collaborative approach they have to research is one that is going to yield great results with respect to deal with what's a horrible disease."
"I care, and I want to be able to help out," said Orosco, who gives pitching lessons to anyone age 8 and up these days in his hometown of San Diego. "I know Mount Sinai does so much for children up to adults. It's a nice thing to do, and to be a part of it makes you feel good. ... Commissioner Manfred is really involved and he wants to let it be known that Major League Baseball and their teams and players back things up."
Bill Welke was the home-plate umpire for the longest Game 1 in World Series history on Tuesday, and he was among the full World Series umpiring crew at Mount Sinai before moving over to the Replay Control Center for all remaining games in the series. He returned for the Commissioner's visit, one of 15 UMPS CARE hospital visits in the calendar year, and called this "by far the best day of the year for umpires."
"A long game is tough, but these kids know what tough is," Welke said. "The World Series is great, it's a wonderful event, and we're all proud to be a part of it, to take time out of our day to come here and make these kids' hours and days, if it can make them a little happier for even a short amount of time, there's nothing as important as this."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.