Care. Act. Inspire.
That's become the motto of the Major League Baseball Players Trust, and it was evident in abundance during the second weekend of January when dozens of active and former players gathered at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., for the annual meeting of the players' collective charity.
The focus of the weekend is fun -- with some business mixed in. The Players Trust golf tournament has become a highlight for players who team with sponsors to raise some of the money necessary to administer the wide range of programs in which the Trust is involved.
"The Players Trust does a lot of great work around the community, not just in this country but in a lot of Spanish-speaking countries as well," said Chris Capuano, who has been an active member of the Trust since breaking in with the Brewers.
The range of golfers included veteran players who don't really golf much but want to help the cause, like Eddie Guardado, to up-and-coming stars like Evan Longoria, who hits a golf ball even further than a hanging slider. And even the most veteran players like the idea of rubbing elbows with Hall-of-Famers Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson and Dave Winfield.
This year's event included rounds of golf at Del Mar Country Club and Torrey Pines South, whose grounds crew was well into preparation for the upcoming San Diego Open. There were also meet-and-greet sessions with sponsors and supporters, an auction, a magic show and even an Iron Chef-style cooking competition featuring celebrity chefs and big leaguers.
The cooking competition brought out the competitive nature of the players, who showed that special brand of baseball player focus and concentration to the other hot stove.
Ultimately, a panel of celebrity chefs gave the close call to the "Rice Griffies" (Reggie Sanders, Mike Sweeney and Josh Barfield, coached by Chef Bradford Thompson) over the "Chef Boyarethree" team (Bobby Bonilla, Chris Capuano and Kenny Lofton, coached by Chef Beau MacMillan).
"But it's not all about golf and having fun," Capuano said. "That's a big part of it, but the great majority of players came out a day early to actively participate in the Trust's annual meeting.
"We go over all of the different Trust programs, and we collectively make decisions about how we can put our money and resources to the best use to impact the lives of the most people. There is a lot of active player involvement. The Trust is possible because there are a lot of conscientious players who want to make decisions and help run this thing."
Even while most of the participants were heading home for the last few weeks before Spring Training, about a dozen current and former players stuck around to give a baseball clinic for underprivileged kids at the University of California-San Diego. The youth instruction was part of the Players Trust's newest program, which is called City Clinics. In conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, current Major Leaguers created their City Clinics program to promote the game of baseball, life skills and education to underprivileged children living in cities across the country.
It was just another call to serve for this committed group of players and former players. They cared, they acted, and they inspired.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.