Dozens of Little League baseball teams from around the state stand to walk away winners after attending the 17th annual Arizona Baseball Charities Celebrity Game on Sunday.
The game will be played at 1 p.m. at Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 E. Osborn Road, and will feature about 50 former major leaguers, including Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry.
Nearly one-fourth of the 43 Little League teams that plan to be in attendance are from the East Valley. Seven of Mesa’s Little Leagues will be represented, as will two from Gilbert and one from Queen Creek.
This year, Arizona Baseball Charities is poised to surpass $800,000 in donations to Little League teams over the years, according to former major league pitcher Buddy Schultz, executive director of Arizona Baseball Charities.
“What would you do if your team got $5,000?,” Schultz asked. “That money could go a long way. Every bit helps.”
Simply by showing up with 50 people or more, 43 teams or leagues will receive $300.
But during the seventh inning of the game, a drawing will determine a $5,000 winner.
Two teams will win $2,500 and 10 teams will win $1,000. The public also can attend.
The money is aimed at helping to further a team’s “field of dreams,” whether it’s building a field, purchasing new equipment or simply keeping the field’s lights on.
The featured raffle at the game this year is an autographed baseball by Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, the New York Yankees’ famed home run duo in the 1960s. Tickets for a chance to win the ball are $10 each.
Jeff Tush, president of Red Mountain Little League in Mesa, and Jack Ross, president of the Desert Ridge Little League in Mesa, each will be receiving $300 to go toward his league.
Tush and Ross said they plan to use the money for new batting helmets and to help pay for the use of lights, as Mesa doubled the cost of lighting at the fields from $6 an hour to $12 an hour this year.
Tush also said they will use part of the money for a fiberglass pitching mound featuring artificial grass.
“It’s great for the kids and great for the teams,” said Tush, whose teams have attended the celebrity game for the last four years. “By receiving the money, it helps us pay for some things we wouldn’t be able to get otherwise, and it helps us not to raise registration fees for kids to play.”
Ross added: “There’s only so much money you can recoup in registration fees for the leagues, so whatever we receive is great. It’s free money. It’s nice to see the players give back to the kids for the years they’ve been supported in the game. Plus, it’s a good time and a good day.”