NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In an effort to keep raising funds for its highly successful Stand Up To Cancer initiative, Major League Baseball has set up an unprecedented auction at MLB.com, with all 30 clubs contributing noteworthy items.Angels fans can win a meet-and-greet with American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout, a meet-and-greet with manager Mike Scioscia and a 30-minute hitting lesson with coach Jim Eppard, with each of the experiences including four tickets to an Angels game. These Winter Meetings serve as the launching pad for the 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 8:59 p.m. PT 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. Former Angels outfielder Tim Salmon is a big fan of the cause, in many ways because it hits so close to home. Early in the 1996 season, he noticed that his wife, Marci, had a lump on her neck, so he took her to see team doctors, who then proceeded to run a biopsy. The result: thyroid cancer, which is very treatable, but always scary. "Any time you're sick and they have the word 'cancer' associated with it, it's the worst news you can hear, because everybody knows what cancer means," Salmon said. "It's a death sentence. At least that's the way it's perceived in the public. We were fortunate we had the right cancer and we had great doctors, and they treated it well and they've come a long way as far as diagnosing it and dealing with it." Shortly after undergoing surgery to remove her thyroid, Marci was basically cleared of cancer, though she still went in regularly for checkups with the oncologist. Those visits have gone from multiple times per year to currently one every half-decade. "That one appointment, we're always like, 'Everything's going to be fine,' but still, you get that little sinking feeling, like, 'OK, is this the year they're going to say something else?'" Salmon said. "That's kind of our ride with that." But causes like SU2C, which has pledged funds totaling $180 million since its May 2008 inception, provide plenty of help for that ride. "Anything at a national level that can raise the kind of money for cancer research that they can do, it's just an awesome endeavor," Salmon said. "I'm so glad that baseball is going through it."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.