NASHVILLE -- Impacted first hand by colleagues being diagnosed by cancer, public relations officials from Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs announced Monday afternoon they have organized a unique online auction to benefit Stand Up to Cancer.
The cause has impacted the Orioles directly. The club's public relations director, Monica Barlow, is battling Stage 4 lung cancer.
"I don't want to be a spotlight person," Barlow said. "Millions and millions of people are affected by this disease. That said, if I can help raise awareness to raise funding for this, then I absolutely will do what I can. That's why I feel it's important."
There are three Orioles-related items in the auction:
-- Be an Orioles player for a day: At spring training in Sarasota, the winner will eat breakfast with players, wear an Orioles uniform, participate in pregame activities – hitting batting practice, shagging balls and stretching – and then eat lunch with the team before a game. During the game, the winner will be in the dugout and serve as a bat boy.
-- Ride on the team bus: The winner and a guest will ride the Orioles team bus for one of the team's three games against the Nationals in D.C. They will be on the field for batting practice, receive tickets and ride back to Baltimore on the bus.
-- Game-used team-signed batting helmet: A batting helmet used by catcher Matt Wieters during the postseason (it has the postseason logo on the side) that will be signed by every Orioles player who attends FanFest in January.
Other auction items include watching three innings from inside Fenway's Park's Green Monster, breakfast with Hunter Pence, a school visit from Nats pitchers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, a guitar lesson from Bronson Arroyo and a party at your home with the Brewers racing sausages as guests.
The online auction, which includes more than 70 items, opened Monday afternoon and will run through Thursday at 11:59 p.m. It can be accessed on MLB.com
While Barlow said she is uncomfortable being in the spotlight, she knew participating was important. She is currently participating in clinical trials that require funding for research.
"It's something I recognize the importance of because I realized I probably wouldn't be alive today without research," she said. "The drug that I'm on right now did not exist two years ago literally.
"With lung cancer, there is such a stigma about it because lung cancer is such a deadly disease, more deadly than any other form of cancer," Barlow said. "There's such a stigma that the funding for research is so low compared to others, so the more research I did and reading up, I realized this is a serious problem. It's not fair that these diseases are so deadly yet don't get the research funding that others do."