NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Major League Baseball may be filled with extraordinary athletes, wise coaching staffs and a wealth of talent on and off the field. But just like any person in any walk of life, its people are not shielded from the effects of cancer.
Case in point is the Reds' own manager, Dusty Baker, who was confronted with prostate cancer over a decade ago and has become one of baseball's best ambassadors for treatment and prevention. On Dec. 17, 2001, while he was manager of the Giants, Baker received an early-stage diagnosis during a routine checkup. He underwent a radical prostatectomy based on the advice of his doctor and family.
"When we found out that I had cancer, I mean, it changes a whole bunch of things in my life," Baker said in 2008. "You start trying to help other people head it off, and you try to figure out why these things are going on. Is it our diet? Is it our water? Is it our atmosphere? I'm always pushing screening, and early detection is the key."
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 on 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 Reds have offered three unique experiences that are part of the auction. They include a 30-minute private guitar lesson with pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who fronts his own rock band during offseasons.
Another experience is a 30-minute private pitching lesson from Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. Fans can also bid for their child to be a bat boy for a Reds game (child must be at least 16 years old).
Baker, now 63, has since become a mentor and friend to others who have battled the disease, including managing great Joe Torre, former hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and college basketball coach Steve Lavin.
"You appreciate your kids, you appreciate your team, you appreciate your job, you appreciate life, your parents, your family, just different things that are really important to you that sometimes you take for granted," Baker said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.