This Sunday at Scottsdale Stadium, not only will some of the players on the baseball cards your mother might have thrown away decades ago come to life, but a local nonprofit organization is set to mark a milestone.
Scottsdale-based Baseball Charities, donor of thousands of dollars to Little League teams throughout Arizona, is set to surpass $500,000 in funding so young players can get in the game by building a baseball field or by simply buying equipment.
After Sunday's 16th annual Celebrity Baseball Game, $37,000 that has been raised during the last year will be distributed among 40 Little League teams, including $5,000 for one team, $2,500 apiece for two teams and $1,000 each for five teams, according to Buddy Schultz, the organization's executive director and a Scottsdale resident.
Each team bringing 50 or more people to the game will receive $300 from Baseball Charities.
The 1 p.m. game features a roster of former major leaguers who played as many as four decades ago and some as recently as the 1990s.
Hall of Fame pitchers Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry will be honorary team captains and stage one of their classic 1970s-style pitching duels.
Several other former major leaguers also will participate, including former Cleveland Indians infielders Jack Heidemann of Tempe and Eddie Leon of Tucson, who will display their once powerful double-play combination from the early 1970s.
"We want people to come to the game," Schultz said. "We want to see people in the stands. A bunch of us former players are getting together to play the game and have fun, and we want everyone to come to the game and have a good time, too. It's a bunch of guys giving up their Sunday afternoon to come out and have a good time for a good cause. Support us, and we'll support you. There's no downside to this. Reaching $500,000 in the amount of money we have given to teams is a good accomplishment. That's a nice number."
Schultz, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1970s, holds the NCAA record for most strikeouts in a game, 26 of a possible 27 for Miami of Ohio vs. Wright State on April 3, 1971.
He also is the namesake for the Ohio High School Athletic Association's "Buddy Schultz Rule," forbidding a high school pitcher to pitch back-to-back games. Schultz pitched and won the state semifinal and championship games hours apart for Cleveland East Shaw High School in 1968.
During Sunday's game, a Boston Red Sox jersey autographed by late Hall of Famer Ted Williams, will be raffled. Williams, who died in 2002, added .406 after his signature - the batting average he achieved as baseball's last .400 hitter in 1941.
Scottsdale resident Jim Marshall, a former manager of the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A's who now works as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks, will manage one of the teams Sunday against Ken Rudolph, a former catcher for the Cubs and Cardinals. Rudolph lives in Fountain Hills and is the head baseball coach at Arcadia High School.
Schultz said the goal is to have 8,000 fans in the stands on Sunday, 1,000 more than last year's game.
The game could be called an "Old-Timers" game, but Schultz said he prefers to call it a "celebrity" game.
"The first game a former major leaguer plays in after his career is over is the hardest," Schultz said. "The last place he played in as a major leaguer was a place like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, so they're a celebrity."
On Friday, several players involved with Baseball Charities will host a baseball clinic at Scottsdale Stadium with the Scottsdale Charros for 350 students selected from Scottsdale schools.
"This game is a great way to give back," Schultz said of the annual event. "Baseball gave me a college education. If I can help a kid out by helping them play baseball and learn from it, it's worth it."
The Arizona Diamondbacks also have donated McFarlane action figures of Stephen Drew, Brandon Webb and Conor Jackson and bobblelheads of Carlos Quenton to be given to the first 1,500 kids under 16 at the gates.
Raffle tickets for the autographed Ted Williams jersey are $10 each. For information on the tickets or the game, visit www.arizonabaseballcharities.com.
Some of the other players participating in Sunday’s game:
— Frank Tepedino: Played for the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves from 1967 to 1975. Tepedino was in the dugout as a Yankees player in 1967 when Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run and he also replaced Hank Aaron at first base after Aaron hit his 715th home run in 1974 to break Babe Ruth’s All-time home run record. After leaving baseball, Tepedino became a member of the New York City Fire Department and served during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
— Bill Campbell: Major League pitcher from 1973 to 1987, one of the baseball’s top relief pitchers. Campbell is tied for the American League record for most wins by a reliever with a record of 17-5 in 1976. In 1976 and 1977, Campbell was selected as the American League’s Fireman of the Year by the Sporting News and Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award.
— Jim McAndrew: Pitched for the New York Mets and San Diego Padres from 1968 to 1974. McAndrew, a Fountain Hills resident, was a member of the 1969 “Miracle Mets” team which won the World Series by beating the Baltimore Orioles. He also pitched against Hall of Famer Robin Roberts in Roberts’ last appearance of his career.