For the last 19 years, Arizona Baseball Charities has served up a home run pitch to Little League teams across the state to help them achieve their field of dreams as heroes from that shoebox full of old baseball cards come to life.
Next Sunday, about 40 former major leaguers including Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry will help continue that tradition by playing in the annual Molina Fine Jewelers Celebrity Game at Scottsdale Stadium.
Since the event started, Arizona Baseball Charities has raised more than $4 million for Little League teams, according to Buddy Schultz, executive director of the Arizona Baseball Charities and a former pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
This year, 45 teams from across the state each will receive $300, and during the seventh inning, an additional $16,500 will be given to 11 of those teams, including a grand prize of $5,000.
It's not all about the money, but it's about helping out and giving back, and helping kids be able to play baseball," Schultz said. "But, we want people to come to the game. We want to see people in the stands. 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."
In addition to Perry, other former players who will participate in the game include catcher Duffy Dyer, who played on the 1969 New York Mets World Championship team, former Cubs player Byron Browne Sr., former Mets and Brewers pitcher Kevin Kobel, former Cubs and Oakland A's Manager Jim Marshall, and former Cubs and Kansas City Royals player Pete LaCock, the son of Peter Marshall of Hollywood Squares television fame.
Fans in attendance are encouraged to purchase food from the concession stand as 100 percent of the proceeds raised are returned to Arizona Baseball Charities to distribute to Little League teams. In additional to raising funds at the concession stand, an acoustic guitar autographed by former Beatle Paul McCartney, will be raffled off during the game. Tickets for a chance to win are $10.