NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Indians manager Terry Francona has been around the game long enough -- and has managed in enough cities where baseball is king -- to understand how influential people in the big leagues can be in the social landscape.
So when asked to do something that is hardly time-consuming, easy to pull off and will raise hundreds, or thousands, of dollars, Francona considers it a no-brainer.
That's been the general attitude toward Major League Baseball's nationwide auction currently taking place on MLB.com. An unprecedented venture, the auction benefits Stand Up To Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as a founding sponsor.
The Tribe is offering a unique package titled an "Indians Gameday Experience," which includes taking batting practice (off a Major League batting-practice pitcher) at Progressive Field, watching BP from the Indians' dugout, meeting Francona, watching the game from the press box -- along with a meet and greet with radio voice Tom Hamilton -- plus lunch or dinner for four at Great Lakes Brewing Company and four passes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
So far, the package has garnered 10 bids, with the highest coming in at $1,050. There is still time to get in on this, however -- bidding runs through Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT.
"We as an organization, or me, or the players, you try to do something good for somebody," Francona said. "I'm thrilled to help. Anytime we can help somebody else out, and we're in that position because we're baseball players or coaches or managers, I'm thrilled and honored."
There never has been an auction quite like MLB.com/SU2CAuction, and that is mainly the result of club PR directors who got together on a mission that is very personal in nature. Many of them work with club personnel who have been diagnosed with cancer, and this became a unified effort to use their unique access to list at least 70 items that almost make it hard to choose.
The auction includes participation via meet and greet and/or autographed items from 16 Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Orlando Cepeda, Andre Dawson, Carlton Fisk, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice and Nolan Ryan. Three others honored at Cooperstown have agreed to lend their involvement: broadcasting award winners Denny Matthews and Vin Scully, as well as Roland Hemond, 2011 recipient of the Hall's Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Meet and greets or unique experiences were donated by at least 15 current or former All-Stars: Don Baylor, Kirk Gibson, Rick Honeycutt, Tim Hudson, Craig Kimbrel, Brian McCann, Charles Nagy, Giancarlo Stanton and 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout -- in addition to Bronson Arroyo, Tyler Clippard, Evan Longoria, Hunter Pence, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki.
Listed are autographed items from more of the game's best current and former players, including Jeff Bagwell, Jose Bautista, Craig Biggio, Miguel Cabrera, Adam Dunn, Todd Helton, Felix Hernandez, Chipper Jones, Paul Konerko, Dale Murphy and Frank Thomas.
The organizers are also asking all 30 managers to sign baseballs, which will be auctioned off at a later date.