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The 25th annual Whitecaps Community Foundation “Step Up to the Plate” event presented by Barnes & Thornburg will feature appearances by the Detroit Tigers Winter Caravan, including manager Ron Gardenhire and several former Whitecaps players, along with Whitecaps Hall of Fame Class of 2019 inductee Matt Joyce.
The event will be held on Thursday, January 24 at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. Festivities include a strolling dinner, interactive activities, and silent auction, followed by the speaking program, Hall of Fame induction ceremony, live auction and YMCA Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball program recognition.
Proceeds from Step Up to the Plate go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation, which will donate the majority of funds from the event to the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities. More than $860,000 has been raised through the Whitecaps Winter Banquet for the charities.
Former Whitecaps players scheduled to appear as part of the Tigers Winter Caravan include Sandy Baez, Buck Farmer, Grayson Greiner, Matt Hall, Joe Jimenez, Zac Reininger and Christin Stewart. Other Tigers scheduled to attend are Victor Alcantara, Jeimer Candelario, Willi Castro, Brandon Dixon, JaCoby Jones, Daniel Norris, Franklin Perez, Tyson Ross and Daniel Stumpf. Tigers Vice President and Assistant General Manager David Chadd and Tigers Vice President, Player Development Dave Littlefield are scheduled to attend, while joining manager Ron Gardenhire from the coaching staff will be Rick Anderson, Steve Liddle and Joe Vavra. Whitecaps manager Lance Parrish and hitting coach John Vander Wal will be in attendance as well.
Tickets are available at http://wcf2019.givesmart.com until Monday, Jan. 14. Tickets are $85 each, $1,000 for a Home Run package of 10 tickets, or $1,500 for a Grand Slam package of 10 tickets. The Grand Slam package (limited availability) includes access to the exclusive VIP Lounge area for a meet-and-greet with Tigers players, as well as complimentary drinks in the VIP Lounge. All tickets include two complimentary drink tickets.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a new or gently used youth sized glove to donate to the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program.
Fans not in attendance will once again be able to bid on silent auction items and support the Whitecaps Community Foundation’s initiatives. To view the auction items or make a donation to the cause, please visit http://wcf2019.givesmart.com. Bidding will go live at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 24, and will close that night at 7:30 p.m.
Joyce, the lone 2019 Hall of Fame inductee, joins 19 other distinguished former players, managers, and administrators who have been inducted since 2009 (see all inductees here).
The YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program, funded by the Whitecaps Community Foundation and Fifth Third Bank, gives approximately 1,900 children annually the chance to participate in a structured extracurricular activity that provides guidance in their lives. Money raised supplies the equipment and operations necessary to provide Grand Rapids inner-city youth with a safe and reliable area during critical times in their lives while teaching the youth self-esteem, teamwork, self-confidence and the fundamentals of baseball.
Tigers players/managers will be made available to the media before the event. For details regarding availability and to acquire a media credential, please contact the Whitecaps Media Relations Department at (616) 726-7067.