Former and active players packed the annual meeting of their collective charity and fund-raising poker and golf tournaments into a tight, two-day schedule and came away not tired but energized by the Players Trust’s ability to positively affect communities around the world.
“Guys get a little energy when they see all the things that the Trust is doing and hear about and discuss all of the possibilities to do more,” pitcher Chris Narveson said. “But we also get energized about the upcoming season when we see all the other guys because we all know the season is now right around the corner.”
The schedule of events in Las Vegas started with an advisory board meeting on Wednesday afternoon during which the players made key decisions and budgeted for the wide array of programs, events and activities the Trust will provide in 2017.
Among the Players Trust signature programs are the Action Team national youth volunteer program, Buses for Baseball, City Clinics as well as charitable partnerships that provide medicine, health assistance and economic aid to families in the Dominican Republic – a place many players call home.
Following the hours-long session, the more than 50 former and active players who gathered turned their attention to two of the Trust’s most popular fund-raising events – the third annual MGM Grand poker tournament to benefit the Trust on Wednesday night and the Trust’s 13th annual offseason golf tournament.
Las Vegas residents Dexter Fowler and Bryce Harper co-hosted and headlined the events and were joined by a list of community minded players led by Hall of Famers Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield.
“We’re put on this platform for a reason,” Fowler said. “To be in the position to help is definitely a blessing.”
Among the other former and current ballplayers supporting the events were Sandy Alomar, Sr., Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Brad Boxberger, Russell Branyan, Chris Capuano, Royce Clayton, Eric Davis, Rajai Davis, Chris Dickerson, Jeffrey Hammonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Heisey, Nick Hundley, Gregg Jefferies, Brian Jordan, Kenny Lofton, James Loney, Fred Lynn, Wil Myers, Steve Rogers, Reggie Sanders, Hector Santiago, Ryan Spilborghs, Drew Stubbs, Steve Trachsel, Carlos Villanueva and Randy Winn.
The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was the center of activity, housing the guests and hosting the advisory board meeting as well as the poker tournament, which was won by pitcher Danny Farquhar, who was participating in his first Trust events at the behest of Rays teammate Dana Eveland.
“I was just happy to be able to be here to help out the Players Trust and join the activities for the first time,” Farquhar said. “Dana was the guy who got me involved and suggested I come out for the Trust meeting. I was able to listen to a lot of veteran players talking about charity work and getting players involved. I’ll definitely be back next year.”
The poker tournament, which raised more than $40,000, was sponsored by Trust partner Tia’s Hope, a charity that provides support services for children with serious illnesses and their families.
On Thursday, patrons and supporters of the Trust joined the players for the golf tournament at Bear’s Best Las Vegas – a unique course made up of 18 holes selected by Jack Nicklaus from his 270 designs worldwide. The winning fivesome included former superstars Bonds and Lofton.
Local radio stations ESPN Las Vegas and Fox Sports Radio 1340 both broadcast portions of their daily programming live from the clubhouse at Bear’s Best, interviewing current and former Players and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark, which helped spread the Players Trust message to the region’s sports fans.
While a rainstorm that came through over the last few holes left some players soaked it didn’t detract from the sense of comradery and enthusiasm that carried through the schedule of activities.
“It was little rainy out there but it didn’t dampen any spirits,” Narveson said. “We had a blast.”
To learn more about the global impact Major Leaguers have on underserved populations across the globe through the Players Trust, please watch the Trust’s 2016 Year in Review video here.
The Players Trust enjoys the support of Tia’s Hope, Anthem, Betteridge Jewelers, Cannon Cochran Management Service, Inc., Delta Air Lines, Harvest Insurance, Lindbrook Capital, Majestic, Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, Nike, Poms & Associates, SunTrust, Topps and Las Vegas Sports Network.