MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Zimmerman hosts 7th annual MS benefit

Murphy, Scherzer also in attendance; event raises funds for ziMS Foundation

Zimmerman hosts 7th annual MS benefit

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had the day off Thursday, and most of them spent a portion of it at the seventh annual A Night at the Park benefit, hosted by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

The event benefited the ziMS Foundation, which is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of multiple sclerosis by funding comprehensive support and educational programs. MS hits close to Zimmerman, as his mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She was in attendance on Thursday in a wheelchair. Zimmerman reports she has her ups and downs but is doing fine.

"It's a fun event to do," Zimmerman said. "[The people at Creative Artists Agency] really do a good job. Last year we kind of made it a smaller event and found our sweet spot raising money, which is the ultimate goal. This event is, 'Come have fun, let my teammates have a good time.' It's nice of them to come out to show support. I enjoy this event a lot."

Quite a few Nats teammates, such as manager Dusty Baker, Clint Robinson and Daniel Murphy, as well as a large number of Nats fans, were in attendance. Right-hander Max Scherzer appeared to be the most sought-after by fans, especially after striking out 20 batters against the Tigers on Wednesday. Scherzer was accommodating to the fans and was pleased to be in attendance.

"We are family," Scherzer said. "Obviously, an MS cause is close to Ryan's heart because his mom is affected. I know research for this disease is paramount. Anything I can do to help out a teammate, help out his family -- at the end of the day, we are all family. This is a good thing to do and a great event to be a part of."

Mingling with players wasn't the only thing that happened at A Night at the Park. There was a silent auction, which included a New York package with tickets to "Hamilton," the hit Broadway show. Also up for auction were a portrait of Zimmerman, which included a batting glove, and a boxing glove belonging to Muhammad Ali. It was one of the gloves that knocked out Sonny Liston in 1965. The price for the glove started at $3,500.

Rock group O.A.R. provided entertainment at the event. Zimmerman met the band while they were playing at Turner Field. After the concert, they learned that Zimmerman was a fan.

"Ever since then, we became friends. We have a lot of things in common," said guitarist Richard On. "We are really happy to be a part of this. It's for a great cause. We believe in it."

The event at Nationals Park isn't the only thing that Zimmerman is involved in when it comes to finding a cure for MS. He has a golf tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., and this year's edition will mark its 11th anniversary.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.