OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. — One day after the All-Star Game, some prominent local athletes took a swing for society. Neither Ike Davis nor David Robertson were a part of the All-Star Game, but the tandem paired up Wednesday to host a charity golf tournament in relief of Hurricane Sandy.
Davis and Robertson were the front men for the Players Trust, the charitable foundation attached to the Major League Baseball Players Association. Several former stars were on hand Wednesday — including Hall of Famer Jim Rice — for an event at Bethpage Black, one of the nation’s premier golf courses.
Robertson, a setup man for the Yankees, and Davis, the Mets’ first baseman, didn’t do much golfing on Wednesday, but they were happy to lend their names and faces to an honorable cause. Robertson, in fact, said that he started playing golf and then decided that he’d better leave it for another day.
“I only played two holes. I haven’t played golf in a long time and I don’t really want to risk an injury or something,” Robertson said. “It’s very hot out here. I’ve been kind of drifting around the course and speaking to people, hanging out at the tee boxes. But I can tell you from two holes, I lost two golf balls. If you miss the fairway, you’re in the thick stuff. And it’s hard to find the golf ball.”
Rice was the headliner on Wednesday, but several familiar faces of various eras turned out in support of the Players Trust. Bobby Bonilla and Jose Cruz Jr. were on hand, as were Ron Darling, Reggie Sanders, Mike Cameron and former Yankee Jim Bouton, among others.
Davis elected not to golf on Wednesday, and he said it’s a sport he doesn’t really play until the offseason. A cause like this, though, was a different animal. Davis said he was thrilled to help people affected by Sandy in any way possible, and the golf tourney provided a perfect outlet.
“It shows that you can take a little time out of your life to help the community. And that anyone can do it,” Davis said of the tourney. “Especially with the superstars that are here that probably don’t have too much time. I have plenty of time. But David Wright, doing all the things he does, I know he doesn’t have very much time to himself. It’s definitely good to see and it shows that you can take a little time and give it to a good cause. If everyone did it, then we could get things moving a little faster.”
Hurricane Sandy, the second-most costly hurricane in American history, made landfall near New Jersey on Oct. 12, 2012, and wreaked havoc all along the Eastern Seaboard. It has caused an estimated total of $68 billion in damages, a sum exceeded only by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Robertson, who has given back to the community through his own charitable foundation — High Socks For Hope — said it was vitally important for people to keep Sandy victims in mind. Robertson’s charity was created specifically for relief of natural disasters, making him a perfect fit on Wednesday.
“I think it’s great that Major League Baseball gets involved in this,” said Robertson. “And the Players Trust does such an amazing job of running events like this, it makes them able to raise large sums of money that’s going to be turned around and used for Hurricane Sandy victims. The spotlight has kind of faded on Sandy. In some people’s minds, it’s still fresh for the people for the people who live here. But I’ve seen firsthand that after natural disasters hit, once the news coverage is off of it, it becomes harder and harder to get funding for people that are without homes or that are having problems.”
Robertson said that he personally visited the Rockaways with his wife as part of a relief effort, and he helped to furnish three houses for families that had lost everything in the storm. But there is still so much work to be done, and there are still so many people in need of assistance.
Enter the Players Trust, which has provided more than $13 million in contributions to charities over the years. The Trust is funded through contributions from all MLBPA members and a percentage of licensing revenue, and the rest comes from special fundraising events throughout the year.
“The Players Trust is a crucial part of what we do,” said Michael Weiner, the executive director of the MLBPA. “This is the first time we’ve ever paired with Bethpage for an event, and it’s tremendous to be out here with all these players and former players to support the Trust and support relief for Superstorm Sandy. It’s been a great day, from what I understand.”
Weiner, who has an inoperable brain tumor, recently revealed that the MLBPA will meet to appoint a deputy director within the next few weeks. Weiner is confined to a wheelchair and cannot move the right side of his body, but he said that he’s thrilled to work for as long as he can.
“My goal is to live each day as it comes,” he said of attending the tourney one day after the All-Star Game. “I don’t take for granted that I’m going to be able to wake up tomorrow and be able to work. I knew this was going to be a wonderful event and a wonderful day and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Robertson, 28, is generally thought of as the presumptive heir to the great Mariano Rivera, and he said he watched Tuesday night’s All-Star Game with glee. Rivera, who pitched the eighth inning in the American League’s 3-0 win, was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
And for Robertson, there couldn’t have been a better outcome. The right-hander said that he has loved working with Rivera and that he was glad the nation paid him a fitting tribute on Tuesday.
“I thought the reception for Rivera was amazing. He got everything he deserved,” said Robertson. “He’s an incredible player and [he’s had] such an amazing career. If you look at longevity and what he’s done in years past, there’s no one else like him. He got everything he deserved.”