Sunday's annual WBAL-AM auction for Center Stage raised a record $112,716, bringing the 15-year auction total to more than a million dollars. This year's figure exceeded last year's by more than $7,000. Since the auctions began in 1978, $1,042,716 has been raised to benefit the theater's Annual Fund.
"This was a year that we could have run into problems because of the economy, but we had more item donations than ever -- bigger and better -- and the bidder and listener support was phenomenal," said Sydney Wilner, auction coordinator. "Many people said when they called in to bid that they were doing this just to help Center Stage, and I don't think we've ever had that feeling before from so many people."
More than 775 items with an estimated retail value of $169,698 were auctioned off during the 16-hour bidding. The highest single bid was $4,040 for two round-trip tickets to Tokyo on ANA-All Nippon Airways, with a retail value of $6,048.
The chance to serve as a pre-game Orioles bat boy fetched $1,750. Other popular sports-related items included a basketball autographed by Larry Bird and the Celtics, which went for $300, and dinner for two with Artie Donovan, which brought $350.
In addition, $1,000 was donated for a day with Dan Rodricks, Evening Sun columnist and WBAL talk show host. The bidder said he'd always wanted to help the theater but couldn't afford to until now. And for the third year in a row, an oil painting by Raoul Middleman went to the same purchaser, who explained that she intends to give a painting to each of her three children.