It is nearly sunrise in Phoenix, Arizona. In a part of the country known for its sunshine and arid climate, a steady drizzle falls outside while a biting wind cuts through the small gaps of the large tent.
Undeterred by the gloomy conditions outside, a cheerful group of Major League umpires and their family, friends, and supporters gathered to make the 5th Annual UMPS CARE Charities Golf Classic a resounding success. Through the support of over 140 participants, generous donations, and a live auction, the event raised more than $75,000 for the charity’s efforts toward children.
“The number of volunteers—family members, friends, and Minor League umpires—never ceases to amaze me,” said Gary Darling, a Major League umpire and the President of the charity. “We couldn't hold an event like this without their help and dedication.”
UMPS CARE Charities is the official charity of Major League Baseball umpires, and the Golf Classic is a vital event for the organization. Its proceeds help ensure that umpires will be able to host more than a dozen events at children’s hospitals nationwide and provide tickets to more than 100 games at MLB parks across the country this year. Children coping with cancer and serious illness, and children from single-parent households or awaiting adoption will benefit from the annual fundraiser.
“Our supporters continue to amaze us year after year with their generosity,” said Jim Reynolds, a Major League umpire for the past 10 seasons who also serves on the board of directors. “Even in this down economy, the support UMPS CARE Charities receives is overwhelming and greatly appreciated.”
Few seemed to mind as rain shortened the tournament to nine holes this year. The foursome from the Office of the Commissioner was the winner, with a team that included Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and MLB executive Joe Garagiola Jr. Robinson signed a pair of baseballs for the on-site auction, which sold for upwards of $1,000 each, and graciously posed for a photo with each of the winners.
“With a substantial contribution from the Commissioner's Office, over 50 current and former players and umpires in attendance, and donations from supporters everywhere, people have responded very generously to our call for help,” said Reynolds.
Other attendees included former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, current Major League pitcher Randy Wolf, and former Baltimore Oriole Don Buford. Former Major League umpires Joe Brinkman, Don Denkinger, Ted Hendry, Larry Poncino, and Steve Rippley also showed their support by attending.
Also present were Tim Williams and Joseph Farrell—aka the “Fake Umps.” The two Toronto natives took MLB stadiums by storm last year by dressing up as umpires and making calls from their seats.
“When we heard about UMPS CARE Charities, Joe and I immediately wanted to get involved,” said Williams. The Golf Classic was a great venue to come out and meet the umpires, and the reception we got was outstanding. We had a lot of fun this past summer as the ‘fake umpires’ and felt this would be a perfect charity for us to support.”
In years past, the live auction always produced some memorable moments and this year was no different. A commemorative All-Star Game home plate signed by President Barack Obama and the umpiring crew from last summer’s game in St. Louis drew the attention of two bidders, both of whom seemed determined to win. Randy Wolf and long-time UMPS CARE Charities supporter Brad Decker each ultimately bid $6,000, and both went home happy when it was revealed that there were two of the item up for grabs.
Generous companies securing the largest corporate sponsorships include Major League Baseball, New Era Cap, the National Network of Digital Schools, SlateXP, Ump-Attire.com, Reeve-Knight Construction, World Umpires Association, and Creative Dimensions.
THANK YOU GOLF CLASSIC CORP. SUPPORTERS!
Office of the Commisioner
National Network of Digital Schools
World Umpires Association
The Fake Umpires from Toronto
Foley's of NY
NPCE Technology Solutions
Above and Beyond Delivery
Copperstate Umpire Association
Don and Charlies
GMP Securities L.P.
Honig's Whistle Stop
Lowis & Gellen Attorney's at Law
Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.
MLB Umpire Supervisors
NHL Officials Association
Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
Precision Hotel Interiors
Principal Financial Group
Wegner LLPYourSource Golf
2010 Golf Classic Winners (L-R) Joe Garagiola, Jr., Rick Doran, Frank Robinson, Damon Buford, Don Buford.