Yesterday, BJ Upton held the first annual “Bowling with BJ” charity event at Splitsville in Tampa. I, your humble correspondent, decided to attend. Not only was I very impressed, but as far as I could tell, the event was a resounding success.
We all know homelessness is a problem in the Bay Area. According to the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, there were nearly 10,000 homeless men, women, and children living in the area in 2009. Hillsborough County also has the highest percentage of homeless people in the State of Florida. Once again, as he has in previous years, BJ Upton decided to do something to help.
Throughout the night, Splitsville was packed with fans, media, and plenty of Tampa Bay sports stars, including of course BJ and his brother Justin, as well as David Price, Reid Brignac, Gary Sheffield, Carl Everett, and Bucs legend Mike Alstott. Even recently departed Ray Matt Garza tossed a few down the lanes. Although I didn’t get a chance to talk to anyone famous, I did get my picture taken with Matt Joyce.
I think he dug the ‘fro.
As the night went on, there were a few things that caught my eye:
- David Price bowls left-handed. I would have thought he would minimize the risk to his valuable left arm and roll his bowling balls with his right hand – although former Giants ace John Burkett for years swore by the benefits of bowling.
- David Price was able to finish his game. I was expecting Joe Maddon to show up and pull Price in the seventh frame and have a different relief pitcher throw each frame thereafter.
- For someone who has watched his share of strikes go by, BJ Upton sure can’t roll one. That may or may not be a joke.
- Don Zimmer is The Man. I was really surprised to see him there. He has sort of a Yoda-esque look to him, like he has forgotten more about baseball than most people ever know. Although he didn’t stay long, he looked like he had a fun time.
- There were more than a few autograph seekers there. That must get really annoying as an athlete to sign your name on everything people pass to you. I’m not even much of a photo guy – the Joyce pic being an exception – but I really don’t get the autograph collectors. Especially when they are over the age of 15. A little kid getting his or her favorite star’s name on a ball is cute; a grown man shoving a baseball in Justin Upton’s face is not. Fortunately, the autograph seekers weren’t too bad. But they were still there.
- I saw several reporters and media folk. For whatever reason, they always look so bored. It must be tough when you are supposed to cover people having fun.