On Monday night, the Philadelphia Phillies came home and played. It was a different game, however, as they laced up bowling shoes instead of cleats at Lucky Strike Lanes in Center City for a good cause.
Jimmy Rollins held his 4th Annual BaseBowl Charity Event and it was a rousing success as all of the stars came out to raise awareness (and a ton of money) for the Rollins Family Foundation and the Eastern Pennsylvania Arthritis Foundation. Even though the Phillies team plane landed just before 4 a.m. on Monday, J-Roll came with a smile that never left his face for the four-hour shindig.
Just after 3 p.m., Rollins came into the mostly empty third floor and greeted the press, looking as though he missed out on some sleep. Shortly thereafter, the floodgates opened and the guests spilled in to join the party, which cost in the thousands for tickets.
Taking part in the festivities were several local businesses including Citizens Bank, Wyeth, Amgen, and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, who’s team won the charity bowling portion with the highest overall score. For their win, players on the team – which was captained by MLB Network anchor Victor Rojas – each won a signed Jimmy Rollins jersey.
After the guests made their way toward the lanes, causing a sea of humanity as fans tried to get a peak at J-Roll and the awesome collection of auction items, the Phillies players arrived. The list of present and former players took a while to read, with Garry Maddox, Gary Matthews, Milt Thompson, Mitch Williams, and Larry Andersen among the retirees. Newest Phillie Cliff Lee hung out with trade partner Ben Francisco, as well as Cole Hamels and Chase Utley. Ryan Howard was given a rousing ovation, and others like Jayson Werth, J.A. Happ, Scott Eyre, and Shane Victorino also took part.
Some of the amazing auction items up for grabs included jerseys signed by Rollins, Utley, Victorino, and Howard, plus a Derek Jeter signed jersey, signed bases from the World Series, and plenty more. There was even an autographed Ben Roethlisberger uniform, a rather risky item considering the territory. Even so, it did quite well on the auctioning table, garnering a few bids.
It wasn’t all fun and games, even though a hundred-plus took their shots at the red pinstriped pins. Team President David Montgomery, General Manager Ruben Amaro, and assistant GM Benny Looper were seen chatting alone, perhaps talking shop, or scouting the arms of the bowlers. We’ll never know.
After a conversation with Looper, he let me in on just how grueling the process is right before the trade deadline. He said it took “an incredible amount of work and man power” to acquire Cliff Lee on top of scouting the several other players they were considering. With the Roy Halladay scenario, Looper said, “It’s like Christmas. One day its there, the next it’s not.” It certainly has turned out just fine for the Phillies after they “settled” for Lee.
While Looper happened to speak about prospects and the like, everyone else was talking about how much fun they were having. Left and right, people were smiling, seeking autographs, and just enjoying the atmosphere.
Jimmy Rollins may have needed some shut-eye, but the rest of the Phillies fans in attendance were wide-eyed and raring to go. All around, it was a remarkably successful and well-put together affair. J-Roll wouldn’t have it any other way.