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Laura Ziskin

Laura Ziskin

Posted: November 1, 2009 02:44 PM

Beyond Baseball

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Saturday night's World Series game was one for the record books for many reasons, but mostly because of those "priceless" thirty seconds in the second inning. No, I'm not talking about Jayson Werth's homer, I am referring to something that is, dare I say, more important than what happens inside the diamond or who prevails as a champion.

MasterCard generously turned over its beloved "Priceless" campaign to Stand Up To Cancer for what became a powerful 30 second call-to-action to fund innovative cancer research. Part of the spot aired live from Citizens Bank Park and featured cancer advocate and Stand Up To Cancer champion, Katie Couric, actors Terrence Howard and Minka Kelly (both of whom lost their mothers to cancer), and former Philly first baseman and cancer survivor John Kruk standing alongside brave patients from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia battling this difficult disease. About fifty thousand fans (and millions more at home) stood with us Saturday night in memory of all those lost and all those in the fight against a disease that claims 1,500 American lives a day. It was a profoundly moving moment that tapped into the best of baseball and the best in corporate sponsorship on an issue that affects us all.

Marketing experts might call this effort corporate responsibility, cause related marketing, a service initiative or some other fancy name. Major League Baseball calls it "Beyond Baseball."

These days professional baseball is as much about hits and runs as it is about players visiting pediatric cancer hospitals, swinging pink bats on Mother's Day in honor of mothers and daughters lost to breast cancer, and encouraging our fathers and sons to get PSA screenings on Father's Day. And that's just cancer. Every organization in every baseball city participates in charities and causes that touch everything from health to education to community building to volunteerism.

Stand Up To Cancer is one of the four charities benefiting from the unprecedented platform of the World Series. The 2009 Postseason will provide images that fill us with pride: a military veteran returning home from duty to throw out the first-pitch; a game dedicated to Roberto Clemente's legacy of volunteerism and community service; and the celebration of the significant impact Boys & Girls Clubs of America have had on our youth.

For all of its history and accomplishments, I think it's this Beyond Baseball idea that will be baseball's most enduring legacy, as it is arguably one of the reasons fan support is so deep and builds with every generation.

Many fans first developed their love to baseball by playing catch in the backyard. Similarly, fans have personally connected to charities and causes thanks to our national pastime. Baseball history is as much rooted in Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games, as it is for its work with the ALS Association. We tear up at the memory of Mike Piazza's walk-off home run in the first game after the tragedy of 9/11, as we do when we remember players lining up to feed firemen and police officers working to clear the rubble at Ground Zero. The indelible images of our past include the presence of the U.S. Military Color Guards in the postseason. Our future will be brighter thanks to Welcome Back Veterans, an organization dedicated to supporting military personnel returning to civilian life, and the emotional centerpiece of game one.

As the country comes together to celebrate the Fall Classic, let's heed MLB's call and remember to participate in things beyond Beyond Baseball. Only a rare few are able to hit a 90-mile an hour fastball, steal a base or pitch a shut out inning, but all of us can make a significant difference in the quality of life we share with our fellow citizens. Baseball has long allowed us to collectively cheer for our favorite teams, ballplayers and plays. On Saturday night, Major League Baseball showed us we could shout just as loud and wave our towels just as hard for the end of cancer. And that is something every fan can be proud of.

Here is the Stand Up To Cancer "Priceless" moment.