B J Upton to Hold Celebrity Bowling Event
I am more than just a little surprised it has taken this long for another Tampa Bay Rays player to promote a fundraising event which involves the lost art of Bowling. Maybe it is a sport that has seen its better days, but it is still one of those family and friends type activities that can bring out the best in all of us.
So when Rays outfielder B J Upton recently announced via his Twitter account his fundraising plans to hold the B J Upton Celebrity Bowling Event at Splitsville lanes located in the Channelside District of Tampa, I was more than pleased to know someone remembers their youth too.
There have been several ex-Rays who have been known to polish their balls and talcum up and toss a few down the oiled lanes of Spiltsville, including neighboring Harborside Island resident ex-Rays Southpaw Scott Kazmir. He used to be among the spares and splits loving masses when local 97X radio DJ Fisher used to have his weekly public appearance outings at the bowling alley in the off season.
With Rays teammates Evan Longoria and David Price also living within walking range of Splitsville, the spectators at the event could possibly see some of the prominent young talent of the 2011 Rays toss a few benders down the slick lanes. Sure to also be in the crowd should be Upton’s younger brother, D-Backs CF Justin Upton plus many more MLB celebrities and players
Upton seems to have move from his usual Celebrity Golf Tourney format for the January 24,2011 extravaganza, which will soon be selling spots among the lanes for bowling enthusiasts within the Rays Republic. Corporate sponsorship is still available which includes several interesting bowling event options.
The Bowling with B J event will again feature Upton’s long time charity, the Society of St. Vincent’s du Paul as its main beneficiary, St. Vincent’s operates homeless shelters and centers to help those in distress in both St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida. Another organization that will benefit from the fundraising effort is two neighborhood South St. Petersburg youth groups located within a stone throw of Tropicana Field.
This is not the first time a Rays player has embarked on sponsoring such a more fan-friendly event much like the same Celebrity bowling events once put on yearly by former Rays catcher Toby Hall. He also provided a night out on the slick Spiltsville lanes rubbing elbows with Rays Republic friends and local celebrities when he played with the Rays.
This time the event feels different to me. Maybe it is the plain fact that openly this year people have accused Upton of being a bit stiff and an unapproachable athlete when things did not start out rosy for Upton in 2010. But I have known him since he was first called up by the Rays at 17, and the guy has a heart of gold and definitely gives back to those in the community.
Take the Diamondback Sunday series finale when some accused him of lollygagging on a ball hit to deep centerfield. Upton showed up that night at the Season Ticket event held at Gameworks in Ybor City and signed for hours for the fans, even in the midst of an impending firestorm of controversy. Upton has his moments, but is heart and mind are in the right place.
This charity event should show more than a few Rays skeptics the human side of Upton that only a few outside of the Rays clubhouse have witnessed. Some might be surprised to learn of the late night trips to I-HOP when former teammate Kazmir was in town this past season.
Another group that will receive funds and aid from the event is the ever expanding BJ’s Bunch program which is made up of local youth from all around the Tampa Bay region. There will also be a VIP/Sponsor reception before the public side of the event, and there will be a live silent auction, numerous raffles during the event and refreshments like pizza and sushi including some ice cold Heineken beer provided by a local beer merchant.
Also helping Upton as co-sponsors of the event will be local 1040 EPSN Radio, which will be broadcasting their afternoon show, Primetime with Ronnie (Night Train) Lane and former Bucs WR Mark Carrier live from Splitsville before the January 24th VIP/Sponsor reception. Scheduled to appear are plenty of Upton’s Rays teammates plus sports celebrities from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Lightning and the numerous other local Tampa Bay celebrities.
All involved will have a chance to participate in the Bowling with BJ event that will encompass a speed-bowling. Information will be available soon if you want to purchase separate tickets or spectator passes to the event, but anyone wanting to help sponsor the event by donating for a lane sponsorship, pin sponsorship should go to:B J Upton 2011 Celebrity Bowling Event for up to moment pricing and sponsorship information.
The event should be an amazing time spent with some of your favorite Tampa Bay athletes and celebrities who will all come together for the common bond of helping those less fortunate in the Tampa Bay region. It is great to see one of the Rays starters coming out and giving back to the Tampa Bay community before they have to report to Spring Training.
This event is just another in an ever expanding list of tremendous community support and outreach the Rays have shown to their adopted seasonal home here in Tampa Bay It I also another great example of just how down-to-earth and humble this young Rays team is right now, and they have their hearts in the right place. Hope to see you there.