NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Blue Jays have teamed up with the rest of Major League Baseball to organize a charity auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer.
Toronto has donated a pair of gift packages that are being auctioned off at MLB.com. The initiative was inspired by the numerous cases of public-relations officials in the sport who have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years.
It's also a health issue that hits close to home for John Gibbons. The new Blue Jays manager lost his father to pancreatic cancer in 2010, and two years later, a similar illness impacted his sister-in-law.
"Cancer's a terrible disease that has affected everybody," Gibbons said from the Winter Meetings on Monday.
"At one end, I'm all excited, I get this great joy, I get this Major League job and now my brother and his family are dealing with cancer. It's a big emotional swing, but it affects everybody's life out there in this country and around the world. It's a terrible disease, and the more that we can help out to find that cure, the better off we'll all be."
A component of this week's Winter Meetings includes an MLB.com Auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as a 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 Blue Jays donated a pair of packages to help the cause. The first one features an autographed program with Roberto Alomar on the cover from the Hall of Fame, including a "Journey to Cooperstown" CD and an Alomar bobblehead. The second includes a Jose Bautista autographed baseball and photo.
"Major League Baseball has consistently engaged fans in joining our movement, having them literally stand up by the tens of thousands in stadiums across the country to show their unity in fighting cancer," said Kathleen Lobb, Entertainment Industry Foundation senior vice president and Stand Up To Cancer co-founder.
"Yet again, the 30 clubs have shown their deep commitment to this cause by creating these unbelievable experiences for the auction."