2010 Home Plate Heroes Night

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Posted on: Thu May 20 2010 by Jim Elder Fund

Preview of Home Plate Heroes 2010 with Alyson Courtney KTHV

2010 Home Plate Recap

Our Third and Final Home Plate Heroes event was truly a grand slam. After a stormy morning, the skies parted and we had our biggest crowd ever, resulting in our most successful fundraising night ever!  And, from all accounts, the level of fun was a record, too.

Our Heroes brought kids from their programs as well as displays and activities.  We served ballpark food and drink, and auctioned artistic home plates and one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia. The Travelers were out of town, but  we played a recording of Jim Elder calling a Travs game from the past.  Even all four of our 2010 scholarship recipients joined us.

Although we won’t have our big event at Dickey Stephens next year, the online auction of artistic home plates and the display at THEA will be held as part of ArtWeek.

Thank you to everyone who made our final event such a hit:  Petit Jean Meats, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Golden Eagle, Coca-Cola Bottling, Mountain Valley Water, Red Door Gallery, Craig O’Neill, Greg Fisher and the Arkansas Travelers.

And thank you to every person who sent a donation, came out to the park, bid on a plate online, bought a lottery ticket, or just rooted for us.

We are very proud of all our Heroes, and we are certain that Jim would be honored by everything you’ve helped us to do to keep his generous spirit alive for Arkansas students.

Harry King on the 2010 "Good Sport" Fundraiser

LITTLE ROCK — The annual update on the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund promoted the organization’s final fund-raiser with a teaser about the items available at auction.

There will be, the daughter of the late sportscaster wrote, “special World Series items … “ and other treasures.”

Between the scrumptious salad and a second slice of crispy pizza from a neighborhood establishment, members of the Good Sport Fund board got the first look at the World Series items. Susan Elder retrieved them and held them up with pride. On hangers, both were visible through the clear of a cleaning bag:

—The intertwined N and Y over the left breast, World Series patch on the right sleeve, blue and gold patch on the left commemorating year one in a new stadium, and those classic pinstripes. On the back, No. 34 and the signature of A.J. Burnett.

—On the other World Series uniform top, the stripes are red, and a blue five-point star dots the “i” in Phillies. Also No. 34, signed by Cliff Lee.

Two elite pitchers who grew up about 30 miles apart, they faced each other in the fifth game of the World Series, a first for Arkies.

Availability of the jerseys came about because Lee and Burnett are involved in the Miracle League, one of the many charities supported by the Good Sport Fund.

Also on the auction block at the May 20 Home Plate Heroes at Dickey-Stephens Park is a basketball to be coveted by Razorback fans. Pat Isbell, friends with Susan since the seventh grade, donated it. She also has a letter from Rawlings saying the ball is a “1994 NCAA Final Four authentic game basketball.”

There is more. Through Isbell’s diligence, the ball includes the signatures of former coach Nolan Richardson, Corliss Williamson, Scotty Thurman, and Alex Dillard.

A long-time basketball fan, she used to avoid the 10 p.m. news so the delayed telecast of a UA game against a Southwest Conference opponent would be fresh. Later, she would drive to Fayetteville and back, often alone, for an ESPN game with Richardson in charge.

Unsigned, the ball was purchased at a charity auction by a former boyfriend. At the time, she worked for a company that was a sponsor of Richardson’s TV show. “My boss was attending some function with Nolan and I sent my ball and Nolan agreed to sign,” she said.

A year or two later, she read that many of the Razorbacks from the NCAA championship team would be signing autographs at a car dealership on Interstate 30 near Benton. A 40-year-old woman with her arms full of stuff for the players to sign, she stood in line for hours with “a bunch of young boys and their daddies for the most part …”

“Once I got to the players, I was not a popular woman with those behind me,” she said. “They weren’t just signing a simple autographed photo — I had stuff — flipping through the pages to get certain things signed!”

Isbell offered the ball to Susan in 2008, but the fund-raiser at Dickey-Stephens was the first of its kind and nobody was sure about response to the auction. Isbell offered again last year. Susan said no thanks and promised to ask when the time was  right.

Since 1998, about $800,000  has been donated to charities in her father’s name. For eight years, there was a golf tournament to benefit the Good Sport Fund. The event in May is the third and final Home Plate Heroes night, a perfect time to take advantage of her friend’s generous offer.

The hope, Susan said, is to “go out with a grand slam.”

With the help of two major-league pitchers and a good friend, the pieces are in place.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is hking@arkansasnews.com