Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feller, Perry and Perez Headline the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner

Orestes Destrade and Tony PerezGaylord Perry and Bob FellerBob FellerThe longest standing member of the Hall of Fame Bob Feller stood on the podium 91 years young, a veteran of World War II, addressing a crowd of 250 former players and aficionados Friday at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Feller, looking ever spry, expressed his affection for the supporters of the MLBPAA, and vowed to be a fixture at the annual reunion dinner for years to come. He introduced the 2009 Alumni Achievement Award honoree, Gaylord Perry, who was being honored for his service to the association. Perry is extremely active with the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, where he and other retired MLB players give clinics around the country for young aspiring ballplayers. Fellow Hall of Famer Tony Perez was on hand to announce the 2009 Heart and Hustle Award recipient, which was Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Following the awards, the fans were treated to a round-table where Perry, Feller, Dennis Leonard, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Tommy John, Rick Cerone, Jeff Cirillo, Mike Torrez, Billy Sample, John Franco, Orestes Destrade and Jimmy Wynn spoke on their favorite MLB experiences. All of the alumni spoke candidly about their travels in the Majors, and showed a genuine appreciation for being able to share them with the fans. "Mudcat" Grant captivated the crowd with an entertaining story of how early in his career he got revenge on an umpire who he believed was "squeezing" him. Grant dipped the unsuspecting umpire's mask in manure, and in the 100 degree heat, the oblivious umpire swore the catcher had soiled himself during the game. The umpire was none the wiser to Grant's prank. Grant also went out of his way to recognize the efforts of Feller for helping to ease baseball's integration by touring with Jackie Robinson's All-Stars in 1946, playing with Larry Doby in 1947 and honorably serving in WWII. Feller graciously accepted Grant's acknowledgment to a standing ovation from the crowd.

To keep up with MLBPAA sponsored events and clinics, check out their website at BaseballAlumni.com

To view additional photos from the event, watch the slideshow below.


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