Hall of Famers to attend Fundraising Dinner

Baseball Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays and Tom Seaver have joined the list of the more than 100 current and former Major Leaguers who are scheduled to attend the 23rd annual “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner presented by Natural Balance Pet Foods” celebrating the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets. The annual fundraising dinner, which benefits the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.), will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.                 

     Additionally, B.A.T. will honor outfielder Carlos Beltran and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. Beltran will receive the Bart Giamatti Award, which is presented annually to an individual in baseball who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late Commissioner. Jones will receive the Big B.A.T./Frank Slocum Award, for his financial support and generosity to the B.A.T. organization.

     More than 50 former Mets will be on-hand at the dinner, including Choo Choo Coleman, David Cone, John Franco, Dwight Gooden, Bud Harrelson, Keith Hernandez, Jerry Koosman, Ed Kranepool, MLB Network Analyst Al Leiter, Darryl Strawberry, Rusty Staub and many others. Baltimore Orioles broadcaster and B.A.T. President Gary Thorne and SNY analyst and Mets pitching great Ron Darling will co-emcee the event. Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner – part of the Mets organization for all 50 years – will serve as the Honorary Dinner Chairman. Additional members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame that are scheduled to attend include Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda, Goose Gossage, Juan Marichal, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry and Billy Williams.

     “We are proud to welcome all of the Hall of Famers and baseball legends attending this year’s dinner who truly believe in this effort to assist members of the Baseball Family who have fallen on hard times with nowhere else to turn,” said Joseph Grippo, Executive Director, Baseball Assistance Team. “The amount of support we receive from Clubs, current and former players, sponsors, and fans is incredible, and we are very appreciative for their generosity. I’d also like to congratulate Carlos Beltran, Adam Jones, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers on their awards and sincerely thank them for their contributions to our organization. We are looking forward to honoring them as well as celebrating the rich history of the New York Mets.”

     Beltran, a former All-Star outfielder with the Mets and a current free agent, established the Carlos Beltran Foundation in 2002 to assist community organizations in his native Puerto Rico. Eventually, he was able to fund an $8 million project, the landmark Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, in the municipality of Florida in Puerto Rico. The Academy is a non-profit, state of the art educational facility, empowering youth to achieve their dreams through sports and education. Open to students in grades 10-12, the Academy provides a dynamic learning experience and is a place where young people can develop and enhance their athletic talent while they strive for academic excellence in preparation to becoming responsible, productive and compassionate global citizens. The Academy has an enrollment of 115 student-athletes, and the curriculum enhances students’ problem-solving, analytical, reasoning, computer and literary skills, with a fully bilingual approach as well as strengthening science, math and research skills. The baseball curriculum takes place on fields meeting Major League Baseball standards both in facility requirements and instructional skills.

     In addition to his generosity to the Baseball Assistance Team, Jones has been a positive contributor within the community, as well. The All-Star has made appearances with the Boys & Girls Clubs and other local youth organizations; has hosted clinics with Baltimore’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and has visited RBI games on Orioles off-days; has teamed up with the Baltimore Animail Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) to bring awareness to animal cruelty in the inner-city; has personally hosted young children with cancer at Orioles games as part of the MLB Players Association “Buses for Baseball program;” and has contributed to the OriolesREACH program. 

     For the second consecutive year, both the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers will be recognized as the recipients of the annual Bobby Murcer Award. In 2009, B.A.T. established the award in honor of the late B.A.T. Chairman, MLB All-Star and Yankees legend. The award is presented to the team in both the American League and National League whose players contribute the most amount of money to B.A.T. through the B.A.T. Payroll Deduction Program that previous season. The Yankees have won the award for the American League each year since it was created. Bobby’s wife Kay Murcer will be on-hand to present the awards at this year’s dinner.