NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- When Shannon Forde passed away during Spring Training 2016, then-White Sox manager Robin Ventura paid heartfelt tribute to his friend.
"It breaks your heart. Married, with two young kids. She was just a sweet person," said Ventura, who played for the Mets from 1999 to 2001 and got to know Forde, New York's senior director of media relations, who passed away at 44 after a long battle with breast cancer.
"You deal with so many people within your organization, but you know, even when you are gone from the Mets, you are still keeping in touch, and it just breaks your heart," Ventura said. "I know my family is very sad about it. She was great to us."
Those great memories of Forde live on, with the Mets the focus of Major League Baseball's annual "Play Ball" auction initiative. MLB and all 30 clubs are participating, and this year's proceeds will benefit youth baseball and softball in Little Ferry, N.J., Forde's hometown, and the funds will help in renovating and rededicating a field in her name.
• Play Ball auction honoring late Mets staffer Forde
The White Sox have contributed three items.
One winner and two guests will play a round of golf with White Sox great Harold Baines, whose game on the links is comparable to his high level of play on the diamond.
Another winner will enjoy a VIP Spring Training experience at Camelback Ranch, an experience designed for four guests. And another experience allows the winner to be a VIP for a day during a 2017 regular-season contest.
These items, along with many others, can be found at MLB.com/Shannon. The auction ends on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.