NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson has always made it a priority to talk to his players about the importance of giving back to the community, so it should come as no surprise that he's passionate about Major League Baseball's latest charitable initiative. A massive auction is currently taking place on MLB.com, an unprecedented venture that will benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which Major League Baseball has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Items that all 30 clubs have put up for bid include once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that will let fans get up close and personal with the personalities associated with their favorite teams.
The D-backs are offering three amazing packages: a round of golf for two with D-backs pitcher Ian Kennedy; a pair of half-hour lessons with pitching coach Charles Nagy and hitting coach Don Baylor and the opportunity to meet Gibson on the field during batting practice before a game; and a one-hour lunch for two with general manager Kevin Towers and legendary baseball executive Roland Hemond, a tour of the Chase Field press box, where the winner will visit the entire D-backs broadcast team (Bob Brenly, Steve Berthiaume, Greg Schulte and Tom Candiotti), plus dinner in the press box and four VIP seats to a game. Gibson, who wears three bracelets in support of friends and family who have battled cancer, is more than happy to do his part in raising awareness and funds for the cause. "We all know so many people who are affected by it," Gibson said. "Just how it affects families and children. It's wonderful that people come together for a common cause. We all have a common motivation to contribute to find a cure for various types of cancer. It's painful. Nobody likes that. It's certainly something we'd like to minimize or eliminate from our lives." As of 6 p.m. MT on Tuesday, bids on the D-backs' offerings surpassed $1,000: $375 for the All-Star Coaching Experience, $250 for a round of golf with Kennedy and $500 for the Executive Experience. "One of the first things when I come in and talk to my team, one of the things we talk about is the fans and how we can affect people from beyond just playing the game," Gibson said. "We've got nothing but time. We're healthy, we're fortunate, we have energy and we have abilities to give back. So we're happy to do that. We would do that in any capacity we can. It's certainly something we try to make sure everybody understands." There never has been an auction quite like this MLB.com/SU2CAuction, and that is mainly the result of club PR directors who got together on a mission that is very personal in nature. Many of them work with club personnel who have been diagnosed with cancer, and this became a unified effort to use their unique access and list at least 70 items that almost make it hard to choose. The auction includes participation via meet-and-greet opportunities and/or autographed items from 16 Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Orlando Cepeda, Andre Dawson, Carlton Fisk, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice and Nolan Ryan. Three others honored at Cooperstown have agreed to lend their involvement: broadcasting award winners Denny Matthews and Vin Scully, as well as Hemond, the 2011 recipient of the Hall's Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award. The unique experiences were donated by at least 15 current or former All-Stars: Baylor, Gibson, Rick Honeycutt, Tim Hudson, Craig Kimbrel, Brian McCann, Nagy, Giancarlo Stanton and 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout -- in addition to Bronson Arroyo, Tyler Clippard, Evan Longoria, Hunter Pence, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Listed are autographed items from more of the game's best current and former players, including Jeff Bagwell, Jose Bautista, Craig Biggio, Miguel Cabrera, Adam Dunn, Todd Helton, Felix Hernandez, Chipper Jones, Paul Konerko, Dale Murphy and Frank Thomas. The organizers are also asking all 30 managers to sign baseballs, which will be auctioned off at a later date.