COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The 23rd annual Whitecaps Community Foundation Winter Baseball Banquet, presented by Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Wolverine World Wide, will be held Thursday, January 19 at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The Banquet will feature members of the Detroit Tigers as part of their Winter Caravan, as well as an inductee into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame. More than 550 people purchased tickets for the event.
More than 20 Tigers players and coaches will travel to Grand Rapids on the west leg of the Caravan and appear at the banquet. The Tigers will release the Caravan attendees Wednesday.
The Whitecaps Community Foundation Winter Baseball Banquet begins at 5:45 p.m. with a silent auction of sports memorabilia and other items. The silent auction will be followed by dinner, a live auction, the Whitecaps Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the presentation of the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program's coach and players of the year, and the guest speakers.
The Whitecaps Community Foundation is introducing an online bidding system for the silent auction this year. In addition, the bidding system allows fans not in attendance the opportunity to support the Whitecaps Community Foundation by bidding on silent auction items. To view the auction items or make a donation to the cause, please visit www.wcf2017.gesture.com. Bidding will go live at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 19, and will close that night at 8:30 p.m.
Former Whitecaps catcher Alex Avila, who recently re-signed with the Tigers after a one-year stint with the Chicago White Sox, will be inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame during the banquet.
Avila joined the Whitecaps after the 2008 amateur draft, and in his three months with the Whitecaps, he posted a .305 batting average with 22 RBI in 55 games as catcher. He made his debut with the Detroit Tigers on August 6, 2009, playing seven seasons with the Tigers before signing a one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox in 2016. He recently re-signed with the Tigers for the 2017 season.
Proceeds from the Winter Baseball Banquet go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation, which will donate a majority of the funds from the event to the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities. More than $748,000 has been raised through the Whitecaps Winter Banquet for the charities.
The YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball Program, funded by the Whitecaps Community Foundation, Fifth Third Bank and Meijer, gives approximately 1,900 children annually the chance to participate in a structured extracurricular activity that provides guidance in their lives. Money raised supplies the equipment and operations necessary to provide Grand Rapids inner-city youth with a safe and reliable area during critical times in their lives while teaching the youth self-esteem, teamwork, self-confidence and the fundamentals of baseball.
The Detroit Tigers Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in Tigers tickets, grants and scholarships to local charitable organizations with a focus on youth, education and recreation since its establishment in 2005. From renovating baseball fields to rewarding academic achievement, the Foundation aids in the development and funding of innovative programs that promote the game of baseball and the good citizenship embodied in the storied history of the Detroit Tigers.
Tickets for the Whitecaps Community Foundation Winter Baseball Banquet are no longer available.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.