One by one, they boarded the truck flatbeds last month inside the U.S. Airways Center garage to roll out for the 82nd All-Star Game at Phoenix -- arriving at Chase Field in parade style with the annual All-Star Game Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet.
This time, one of the new elements of that parade boarding process was the signing of a 7-foot-3 saguaro cactus statue, symbolic of the 2011 host city. Jose Bautista, Brian Wilson, Roy Halladay, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Verlander, Josh Hamilton and all other players who suited up for the July 12 game took the time to autograph the statue -- 84 signatures in all.
Now the bidding begins at the MLB.com Auction to decide a home for that multi-colored, one-of-a-kind All-Star artifact. It's for a good cause: All proceeds will be split evenly among the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as part of Major League Baseball's year-round initiative to end cancer in our lifetimes.
The signatures include 40 National League and 39 American League All-Stars, four coaches and Luis Gonzalez, the D-backs legend who served as the parade's Grand Marshal and as ambassador of 2011 All-Star Week. The bid page includes numerous pictures of the signings, and it was all witnessed under the auspices of the MLB Authentication Program.
"It's kind of like Spring Training all over again," Hamilton said as he signed the statue before boarding the white truck with his family, waving to thousands of spectators who braved the hot midday climes. "They get pretty close to us. As fans, they enjoy that -- especially the little kids and the dads. It's exciting for them and it's exciting for us to be able to do it."
While you are at the MLB.com Auction, look around at many other available items such as a signed Hideki Matsui bat (most bids on the site as of now); a Robinson Cano 2011 game-worn road jersey; and a Wrigley Field game-used home plate.
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.