The 4th Annual Bob Didier Baseball Hot Stove — an open discussion and sport memorabilia auction with major leaguers — hit another home run this year, raising $30,000 to benefit the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in Mesa by helping offset housing, food, clothing, education and care expenses. A scholarship was also awarded to one student living at Sunshine Acres as part of the First Annual Mel Didier Scholarship Fund, named after Bob’s late father and presented on behalf of the Didier family.
Described as “an open mic for all things baseball” by the event’s founder Bob Didier, a former Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees coach and AWCC Member, it’s a unique opportunity to talk baseball and hear stories from the sport’s greatest athletes and coaches as well as raise money for a great cause. Sunshine Acres is a Mesa-based nonprofit that provides a loving, wholesome, Christian home for children who are separated from their parents. It’s currently home to more than 80-children between 5-15 years old that stay at Sunshine Acres for 5-8 years on average.
Willmeng Construction’s support of the event dates back to its inception in 2015, serving as the event’s first corporate supporter. Willmeng again sponsored this year’s event on March 8 at the Apache Wells Country Club along with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation.
Not only do guests get unprecedented access to legendary ballplayers, they also get to hear first-hand stories from the greats that actually lived and witnessed them. “The event is special because it gives you a uniquely personal experience with great past baseball players,” explained Tom Jarvis, partner and vice president of pre-lease estimating, who emceed the event again. He describes it as a special atmosphere adding, “the frankness and candor from the stories of these ex-ballplayers is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
“True baseball fans enjoy participating in this event and the fact a special place like Sunshine Acres benefits from the proceeds makes it an honor for me to assist with Bob’s Hot Stove,” Jarvis explains. “Please reach out to us if you’re interested in sponsoring or attending the event, you definitely will enjoy the experience!”
Among the seven prizes at this year’s auction were two A.J. Pollack and Paul Goldschmidt signed paintings that fetched $2,000 each. An additional $3,000 was donated for an 18-seat Luxury Box for a game at Chase Field this season, which was donated on behalf of the Arizona Diamondbacks and President Derrick Hall.
Bob Didier presented Tabby Plantz, a straight-A student living at Sunshine Acres since age 13, with the Mel Didier Scholarship to attend Grand Canyon University the following school year worth $5,000 from behalf of the Didier family.
The event’s panel regularly boasts baseball greats and this year’s panel was no exception with Bill Buckner, former Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals first baseman; John Hiller, former Detroit Tiger and AWCC Member; and Jack Howell, former Los Angeles Angels third baseman, in attendance to name a few.
Check out videos of Bill Buckner and A.J. Pollock giving batting lessons to children at Sunshine Acres during the Hot Stove in 2017. The 5th Annual Hot Stove will be at Salt River Casino next year in early March.