11/26/08 4:00 PM EST
Angels bring winning ways to children
Los Angeles' charitable efforts spread good cheer among youths
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
And it's a focus on helping children in the community that is really the mission of the Angels' organization off the field."It's very important to pass the game along to kids to give them the opportunity to play and the opportunity to do things you always hope for growing up as a kid," Angels community relations manager Matt Bennett said. "Things like education and the opportunity to play sports without worrying about the things that can negatively affect them at a young age." The Angels raise money through the Angels Baseball Foundation, which was created in 2004. The foundation is a non-profit entity that hosts various fundraisers during the year to provide money and award grants to worthy organizations and schools in the community. The Angels help raise money through events such as the 30th Annual Angels Baseball Foundation/65 Roses Golf Classic, which raised more than $300,000 for the fight against cystic fibrosis on Nov. 2 and 3. Another successful golf tournament was the Angels Baseball Foundation Alumni Golf Classic held on Nov. 12. Each year the Angels also adopt five local elementary schools and five local high schools and provide them with grants for school programs -- along with visits from Angels players. In addition, the foundation supports many health-related entities, including Anaheim Memorial Hospital, Orange Coast Memorial Hospital, Children's Hospital & Health Systems Foundation, Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County, the Orange County Burn Association and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. The Angels also make hospital visits at least once a month, with players and the Angels' strike force making appearances to brighten a patient's day. It's the willingness of the players to make appearances such as those that really makes a difference in the community. "We can do whatever we'd like to do in the community, but it will never have the same impact if our players aren't involved," Bennett said. "They're the face of the organization and the ones everybody looks to." Angels players such as John Lackey and Robb Quinlan visited hospitals in the area in 2008, while others such as Joe Saunders and Brandon Wood made appearances at local elementary schools. Angels manager Mike Scioscia also hosted a baseball clinic in Thousand Oaks, Calif., with players such as Jered Weaver, Mike Napoli and Darren O'Day instructing the participants. Even Torii Hunter, who joined the team last season, got involved in the community by donating money to create Torii Hunter Field in Placentia, Calif., to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Brea-Placentia-Yorba Linda and the Angels' Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities League. And reliever Justin Speier was named the club's 2008 Roberto Clemente Award representative for his outstanding work in the community. But just about every member of the coaching staff and every player reached out into the community in some way in 2008. "I think we've always had players that have been active in the community," Bennett said. "Seeing players as youngsters is magical for someone who is a baseball fan, and really for any kid. We try to put the players in situations where they can have the most impact and do the most good in the community."
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.