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|Subject: Tigers players happy to aid charitable efforts in 2011 Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:29 pm|| |
Tigers players happy to aid charitable efforts
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 11/23/11 4:00 PM EST
DETROIT -- The Tigers fell two wins shy of the World Series, but they still have a lot to be thankful for. The support they received from the city and the region is at the top of the list.
As much as the Tigers gave fans something to cheer about in their run to the American League Championship Series, from Justin Verlander's MVP season to Miguel Cabrera's first batting title to Jose Valverde's perfect season as a closer, it was just as significant for them to give back.
For Cabrera and fellow Venezuelan Carlos Guillen, that meant a continuation of their efforts to help children. With their respective charitable foundations, along with the Detroit Tigers Foundation, they teamed up to present Keeping Kids in the Game, the highlight of the Tigers' in-season fundraising efforts. The night of entertainment at Comerica Park raised more than $210,000 for the respective foundations and to help support children's health and youth baseball programs through the Children's Hospital of Michigan and the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
Cabrera also helped host the Tigers' Fantasy Camp for Kids, a one-day clinic that gave 50 youngsters with physical challenges the chance to work with Tigers stars and improve their baseball skills. Four of Cabrera's teammates also joined in to help.
Cabrera also stepped in to help when a local youth team was in a pinch. While the Detroit Junior Boys RBI team was thrilled to advance to the RBI World Series in Minnesota this past summer, the players were a little embarrassed to compete in three-year-old, hand-me-down jerseys. With a limited budget, all the team could afford were white baseball pants and plain orange T-shirts.
The Tigers shared the story with Cabrera, who took up the cause. Teaming with the Detroit Tigers Foundation, Cabrera purchased new full uniforms for every player and coach on the team, allowing them to compete in style.
While Victor Martinez arrived in Detroit to play a key role supporting Cabrera in the lineup, his charitable support was a big help in the community as well. Martinez gave his financial support to Play Baseball Detroit, an outreach program dedicated to strengthening and expanding youth baseball and softball programs in the greater Detroit area. Martinez also donated his luxury suite at Comerica Park to a variety of charities during the season.
All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta made an impact in his first full season in Detroit. With help from the Detroit Tigers Foundation, Peralta helped support the Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship tournament, allowing nearly 750 kids to compete in the annual four-day showcase of the area's top baseball talent. Peralta paid a visit for the opening ceremonies to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
While Verlander was putting up a summer to remember, he was also providing memorable experiences for Michigan's veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with his Verlander's Victory for Veterans campaign, which allows injured veterans and their families to watch Verlander's outings from his luxury suite at Comerica Park. Eighty-five veterans and 324 total guests took part in the program in his inaugural year.
Verlander made a bigger impact after the season. With grants from the MLB Players Trust as part of his award from Players Choice AL Pitcher of the Year and MLB Player of the Year honors, Verlander made a $100,000 contribution -- including $30,000 of his own money -- to support the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
The Tigers' charitable efforts continued into the holiday season. When Gleaners Food Bank needed help serving the growing number of children and families in need of food, 36 members of the front office stepped up, along with broadcaster Rod Allen, to help package food pallets, pantry packs and donation mailings.
With their help, Gleaners will distribute 30,874 pounds of food in 1,335 boxes to local charities.
The Tigers will also continue their tradition of treating children and families in need to a holiday feast at the Tiger Club, with help from Delaware North Company and SportService. Tigers utility man Don Kelly and his wife Carrie, pitching coach Jeff Jones and his wife Paula, and Rod Allen and his wife Adrian will take part.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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