Clutch hit: Roberts' fundraiser connects for children

Relocated 'Brian's Baseball Bash' raises money for University of Maryland Hospital for Children

August 21, 2010|By Conor O'Neill, The Baltimore Sun

The obstacles for Sunday night's "Brian's Baseball Bash," hosted by Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, were more pronounced this year than in its previous four years.

Roberts had spent most of the season on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back before returning at the end of last month.

And the previous venue, the ESPN Zone, had recently closed, leaving Roberts and the University of Maryland Hospital for Children looking for a new site.

"I think it's out of sight, out of mind sometimes," Roberts said. "A lot of people were probably wondering if we were having it."

But the fundraiser will go on, this time at Dave & Buster's in Arundel Mills mall. While Roberts concedes that planning this year has been more difficult, he remains proud of the event — a gathering that enables fans to mingle with him and other sports celebrities and to bid in silent and live auctions on autographed uniforms and other items.

For each of the past three years, the Bash has raised about $200,000, roughly 20 percent of the money the hospital has brought in.

"For an event to net that much, it's huge," Amy Jarboe, the hospital's director of development said.

Roberts, who with his wife, Diana, is on the hospital's board of advisers, remains modest when talking about the success of the Bash.

"I always think about the first year we were putting it together and how scared I was that nobody was going to show up," Roberts said. "The fan support, community support, the support of my teammates, management and the Orioles, it's all been very humbling."

But as much as the two-time All-Star would like to stay out of the spotlight, his contributions hardly go unnoticed.

"Both Brian and Diana Roberts have really become a part of our community, and help all children, especially those with heart disease," said Dr. Geoffrey Rosenthal, director of the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Program.

The Roberts "come regularly to the hospital. When they visit, they share their spirit, and they lift the spirits of the children and the staff," Rosenthal said.

Brian Roberts is involved with the hospital in part because of his experiences as a child.

When he was 5 years old, Roberts had open- heart surgery for a congenital condition.

"There are two motivations, and [one would be] my experiences as a kid and what I went through," Roberts said.

He recalled that his surgery took place when his father was baseball coach at North Carolina and that he was cheered by a visit from then-Tar Heel B.J. Surhoff, who later played for the Orioles.

"The other driving factor is making those visits and seeing all those kids and families and realizing that my wife and I have the opportunity to make that a better place financially, as well as the personal aspect of making visits," Roberts said.

Previous Bashes helped pay for new technologies that have enabled doctors to diagnose and treat children less invasively. This year's money will be targeted for creating "hybrid suites" that will allow doctors to perform more complicated procedures in less invasive ways to treat congenital heart conditions.

"It's been a little harder," Roberts said of pulling together this year's event, "but I still believe in the end it's going to turn out as well as it always has. … I'm just proud of everyone coming together for a great cause."

conor.oneill@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

Online

For information about the University of Maryland Medical System's foundation, go to ummsfoundation.org.

Correction: A story in Sunday's paper about Brian Roberts' Baseball Bash provided incomplete information about "hybrid suites" at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. The hybrid catheterization suite opening this fall will allow doctors to perform more complicated procedures in less invasive ways to treat congenital heart conditions, but they will not take place in a child's room.

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