NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tampa Bay, like most organizations and families, is not immune from cancer. The organization has been affected accordingly, which has added resolve to its efforts to help fight the dreaded disease.
"The Rays organization has lost its share of family members to cancer, most recently Karen Lukevics, wife of Rays director of Minor League operations Mitch Lukevics, who passed away just before Thanksgiving," Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said. "We are proud to stand together with the other 29 Major League clubs to use our unique resources to aid cancer research."
The Rays are actively involved with the Moffitt Cancer Center and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. More than 70 Rays players, coaches and front-office members -- including principal owner Stuart Sternberg and manager Joe Maddon -- shaved their heads on March 15, 2012, as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Sternberg also serves on the board of directors for Moffitt, and the Rays have partnered with the cancer center on a number of events, including the Spring Swing, during which free skin cancer screenings are conducted at specified Spring Training venues throughout the month of March.
These Winter Meetings include an MLB.com Auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Public relations representatives from all 30 clubs were inspired to act based on individual club members impacted by the disease, and they jointly organized the auction and announced it Monday in Nashville with MLB staff. Bidding closes at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday with more than 70 baseball-related experiences, ranging from clubhouse tours by players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides to meet-and-greets with 14 Hall of Fame players.
The Rays will auction 30-minute pitching lessons from pitching coach Jim Hickey and a 30-minute hitting lesson from hitting coach Derek Shelton, plus four tickets and pregame field passes to a mutually agreed upon home or road game.
In addition, the Rays will auction four tickets, pregame field passes to a mutually agreed upon home or road game, personalized jersey and the opportunity to meet Evan Longoria, David Price and Maddon pregame. Also included are four tickets, pregame field passes to a mutually agreed upon home game and the opportunity to be in the Rays' 2013 team picture.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.