Baseball Assistance Team

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The logo of the Baseball Assistance Team.

The Baseball Assistance Team is a 501(c)(3) non-profit affiliated with Major League Baseball. The organization's stated goal is to "help members of the baseball family who have come on hard times and are in need of assistance," and is guided by the principles of teamwork, caring, and sharing.[1] The baseball family includes former players, both from the Major and Minor Leagues, former Negro League players, umpires, and team personnel. B.A.T. recognizes that "events and circumstances can become difficult and trying when the cheering ends," and aims to alleviate financial and medical hardships faced by former players.

History[edit]

The Baseball Assistance Team was founded in 1986 during the term of Commissioner Peter Ueberroth as a way for Major League Baseball and its players to take care of former players who have fallen upon hard times. Eligibility for help from B.A.T. has since been expanded to include to those with three years of service as Major League and Minor League front office personnel, umpires, scouts, Minor League players, athletic trainers, former Negro League baseball players, women from the Women’s Professional Baseball League, and their immediate families. It was founded with the goal of helping members of this Baseball Family during times of hardship, not as a long term program but as a bridge to get people back on their feet and self-sufficient without losing dignity. In 1991, a contribution from Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the Freedom Foundation established an endowment for B.A.T. While B.A.T. was not, and is not, meant to be a substitute for a pension or retirement savings, it is able to prevent eviction, cover emergency medical bills, or provide for household expenses in a time of need.

Fundraising[edit]

Major League Baseball provides for the overhead expenses of the Baseball Assistance Team and therefore every penny raised is donated in the form to a grant recipient. B.A.T. raises the money it uses to help players in a number of ways.[2] To date, B.A.T. has provided over 2800 grants and has raised over $25 million, all of which is given back to members of the Baseball Family.[3]

Going to BAT for B.A.T[edit]

B.A.T.’s most important fundraiser is the Going to Bat for B.A.T. dinner, which is held every January in New York City. The dinner, which is attended by over 100 current or former players, also boasts the largest gathering at the 2009 Going to BAT for B.A.T. Dinner of Hall of Famers aside from the induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York. Three prestigious awards are given by B.A.T. every year at this dinner. Additionally, the dinner is a chance for attendees to meet some of baseball’s best players from various generations. In 2011, the dinner celebrated the life and legacy of George M. Steinbrenner III.[4] The 2012 23rd Annual "Going to bat for B.A.T." Fundraising dinner honored the Met's 50th Anniversary.

Celebrity Ball for B.A.T. & B.A.T. Celebrity Golf Tournament[edit]

The Inaugural Celebrity Ball for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner was yet another event in which money is raised for members of the Baseball Family who are in need of assistance with nowhere else to turn. This event was held during the first week of Cactus League games in Scottsdale, AZ. Former B.A.T. President Joe Garagiola was honored with the first B.A.T. Lifetime Achievement Award. The following day 100 golfers teed off for the inaugural B.A.T. Celebrity Golf Tournament. 25 Major League Baseball legends filled the course, headlined by George Brett, Steve Garvey, Luis Gonzalez, and Robin Yount.

Spring Training Visits[edit]

The annual B.A.T. Spring Training Fundraising Tour is another major endeavor for B.A.T. Since 2003, members of B.A.T. have visited each team in Major League Baseball and solicit donations, all of which are given back to former players and members of the Baseball Family. The visits also educate the players to be the eyes and the ears of the B.A.T. organization by letting B.A.T. know about anyone who may be in need of assistance. The teams that donate the most money to aid others are honored each year with the Bobby Murcer Award. Since the tour started in 2003, Major League players have donated over $9 million to help the neediest members of the Baseball Family. This year, the tour generated 1327 players to contribute over 2 million dollars in donations, shattering all-time B.A.T. records in both categories. [3] The most generous teams in each league for the second consecutive year were the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and these teams will receive the Bobby Murcer Award at the 2012 Going to BAT for B.A.T. Dinner.[3]

Awards[edit]

Big B.A.T./Frank Slocum Award[edit]

The Frank Slocum Big B.A.T. Award,[5] named for the first director of the Baseball Assistance Team, is given to “an individual or a group of individuals whose exemplary service to the B.A.T. organization has helped provide dignity and self-esteem to members of the Baseball Family." The 2012 award was presented to Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Past award winners include Commissioners Bud Selig, Peter Ueberroth and Fay Vincent as well as Bob Costas, Bob Uecker, Ozzie Smith, George Brett, the late George M. Steinbrenner, Don Zimmer, Bob Watson, and Brad Lidge.

Bart Giamatti Award[edit]

The Bart Giamatti award is given to the “individual associated with baseball who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late commissioner.” Generally, it is given to a player involved in a wide range of charity work, benefitting both those involved with the game of baseball and those in the community at large. At the 2012 Going to Bat for B.A.T. dinner, the Bart Giamatti Award was given to Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets. Previous winners include CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, Cal Ripken, Jr., Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter, Al Leiter, Don Mattingly, Tom Glavine, Jorge Posada, and Tim Wakefield.

Bobby Murcer Award[edit]

The Bobby Murcer Award, named in honor of late Yankee great and B.A.T. Chairman Bobby Murcer, is presented to the team from each league that donates the most money during the annual B.A.T. Spring Training Fundraising Tour. The teams presented the award for their contributions during the 2011 Spring Training Tour were for the second year in a row the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League and the New York Yankees from the American League.

Hall of Fame support[edit]

In addition to being supported by players on every club in Major League Baseball, the Baseball Assistance Team enjoys a significant amount of support among members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Present at the 2011 Going to BAT for B.A.T. dinner were Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson, Luis Aparicio, Jim Palmer, Billy Williams, Goose Gossage, Cookie Rojas (not in HoF), Darryl Strawberry (not in HoF), Earl Weaver, and Dick Williams.

Leadership[edit]

Board of Directors and Advisors[edit]

Board of Directors
Advisory Board'

Jay Bell, Carl Erskine, Katy Feeney, Whitey Ford, Joe Girardi, Lou Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Phyllis Merhige, Jim Palmer, Ed Stack, Don Zimmer

Currently, Erik Nilsen serves as the Director of B.A.T. Under his direction, B.A.T. continues to educate members of the Baseball Family about the B.A.T. mission, raise money, and most importantly, communicate daily with current B.A.T. grant recipients and potential B.A.T. grant applicants.

References[edit]

External links[edit]