GREENWICH–Mark Teixeira strolled into the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Greenwich with a big smile on his face and an outstretched hand, waiting to help.
Teixeira has had many moments of greatness in his ten-year big league career, but it was on this stage where he perhaps shone the brightest. The New York Yankees first baseman came out to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at the MS Dinner of Champions.
MS is a debilitating physical condition that affects over 2 million people worldwide. The disease can cause loss of muscle coordination, difficulty walking, and loss of balance. In severe cases, it can lead to paralysis. The MS Dinner of Champions benefits those inflicted with the disease through donations and a silent auction.
Many times, athletes can lose sight of the incredible gifts they’ve been given. Not Teixeira. The five-time Gold Glove winner posed for pictures, signed baseballs for kids, and genuinely seemed to enjoy himself. He was gregarious and engaging—everything you would wish from a millionaire athlete who has been given incredible physical gifts. It was the most fortunate of our citizens coming out to help the least fortunate. And it was heartwarming to watch.
As Teixeira settled into his table and dinner was served, two huge projector screens lit up with his highlights, set to the excitable tones of Michael Kay and the incorrigible John Sterling. “You’re on the Mark, Teixeira!” Deb Placey of the MSG Network served as the evening’s emcee.
It all culminated in an auction that included items like signed football helmets from NFL stars Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and Aaron Rodgers, a game-used base from Yankee stadium, and signed guitars from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Elton John. And of course, there was plenty of Teixeira memorabilia available as well.
“It’s always great to have an opportunity to give back,” said Teixeira. “The MS Society does so many great things for people everywhere, and the Connecticut chapter is especially close to my heart, being a Greenwich resident. I’m just proud to be a part of this.”
Some other inspirational sports figures were also honored at the dinner. Connecticut native and Baltimore Orioles spring training invite Adam Greenberg was in attendance. Greenberg is known for being hit in the head on the first pitch of his first at-bat in the major leagues in 2005. It took him seven years, but a petition drive set up by filmmaker Matt Liston led to Greenberg signing a one-day contract with the Miami Marlins in 2012. He received one more at-bat, and struck out on three pitches. Greenberg, who still deals with the after-affects of the pitch that changed his life in 2005, continues to pursue his dream of reaching the big leagues for good.
Gian Paul Gonzalez was the guest speaker and gave a stirring account of his “ALL IN” philosophy that helped the New York Giants to a Super Bowl title in 2011-12. Gonzalez, a New Jersey high school teacher and founder of the Christian organization 4 One, was asked to address the team before its 2011 Christmas Eve game against the New York Jets. At that time, the Giants were just 7-7 and in danger of missing the playoffs. After Gonzalez’ speech, the G-Men rolled off six straight wins, including a come-from-behind 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
Businessmen Shep and Ian Murray, who founded the clothing company Vineyard Vines, were also honored.
For more information on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and to learn how you can help the cause, please visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org.