1st Bob Allen Open for Sunshine Kids is a Hit

Every story about rhe Sunshine Kids begins and ends with a smile from Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. Photo by Mike McCroskey

Every story about The Sunshine Kids begins and ends with a smile from Hall of Famer and former Houston Astro, Craig Biggio.
Photo by Mike McCroskey

1st Annual Bob Allen Open Benefit for Sunshine Kids is a Hit

 By Mike McCroskey

Cub Reporter

The Pecan Park Eagle

The first annual Bob Allen Open at the Top Golf driving range on the far north side on Sunday, January 30, 2017, and was a big hit with everyone involved. Held for the benefit of the Sunshine Kids is now in the books as a good time for all, and nice contribution of change to the programs supporting the smiles of Houston kids battling major childhood illness.

Named for the iconic Houston sports broadcaster Bob Allen, who died in 2016 from cancer, his memory now serves through this new program what his actions always supported in life for over thirty years, and that is, programs for children with major special needs for love beyond the pale of smiles and shoulder pats alone.

At the suggestion of fellow SABR  (Society for American Baseball Research) member, newly retired Astros Broadcaster, Bill Brown, I decided to attend the first annual program this past Sunday evening.  Now I would like to thank Mr. Brown for encouraging me to attend an event that was literally a very casual, fun-filled evening, one, which also served a worthwhile purpose. I saw a bevy of former SABR speakers, many baseball friends, plus I got to meet some new ones.

I arrived as Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was thanking the crowd for attending and supporting the event.  Former Astros Larry Dierker and Art Howe were standing to one side; former Oiler quarterback, Dan Pastorini was also nearby, listening to Biggio.

During the playful driving range competition, we guests were teamed in groups of six, with one celebrity per team. I was fortunate enough to be in a group with Rita Suchma, a former Astros employee who has been the Director of Development for the Sunshine Kids Foundation since the beginning of 2009.

Rita also was in charge of this fundraiser. It was in her history to do so. She actually began her special relationship with the Sunshine Kids over 15 years ago, while working with the Houston Astros as Director of Community Relations. During that early period, she was then the club liaison to the Sunshine Kids, and she spent a lot of time working with Craig and Patty Biggio on many of the Kids’ ballpark visits and holiday parties.

Rita Suchma made everyone in the group feel welcome.

Former Houston Rocket Robert Reid and Mike McCroskey Photo by Mike McCroskey

Former Houston Rocket Robert Reid and Mike McCroskey
Photo by Mike McCroskey

If that weren’t enough, our celebrity team captain was former NBA Houston Rocket Robert Reid, who, at 61, hasn’t slowed down a bit. With his wife and 17 year old daughter in attendance also Reid was loose, relaxed and a barrel of laughs.

Our group had quite a bit of fun, although no one really figured out until close to the end of the second game, just what we were supposed to be doing, other than hitting a golf ball.

Houston Astro A.J. Reed and Mike McCroskey Photo by Mike McCroskey

Houston Astro A.J. Reed and Mike McCroskey
Photo by Mike McCroskey

We were flanked on one side by announcer Kevin Eschenfelder’s team and on the other by Astros first baseman, 23-year-old A.J. Reed and his team. That kid can really pound the ball. He drew a small audience and was creating ooh’s and aah’s with some of his drives that seemed to be headed toward leaving the Top Golf enclosure. Reid also has trimmed down about 25 pounds from last baseball season, and he seems intent on doing his best to make the Astros 25-man MLB roster this year.

In addition, to Bill Brown, I either spoke with, or saw, former SABR speaker/members Phil Garner, Steve Sparks, Julia Morales, and Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

Mike McCroskey and Julia Morales of the Astros Telecast Team on the Roots Network. Photo by McCroskey

Mike McCroskey and Julia Morales of the Astros Telecast Team on the Roots Network.
Photo by McCroskey

While getting a ball signed by Astros ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel, I explained that the last time I got an autographed ball from him at the beginning of the season, he won the Cy Young award.  He laughed and said he hoped this might be an omen for a repeat performance this season.

Mike McCroskey and Astros Pitching Ace Dallas Kuchel Photo by Mike McCroskey

Mike McCroskey and Astros Pitching Ace Dallas Kuechel
Photo by Mike McCroskey

At the end of the event, Bill Brown and Steve Sparks alternated as auctioneers for a live auction.  Steve was excited when he got a high bid for the auction of $1,300.00 for the last bidding item, an autographed Dallas Keuchel game jersey.  Then someone told him that the winner was his wife, and he needed to go pay! Sparks took the news with a priceless look of surprise.

Houston Astros Manager A.J. Hinch, Mike McCroskey, and the driving range beyond them at Top Golf. Photo by Mike McCroskey

Houston Astros Manager A.J. Hinch, Mike McCroskey, and the driving range beyond them at Top Golf.
Photo by Mike McCroskey

All in all, it was a very relaxing, and, I hope, successful, event.  As Rita Suchma noted, there is a lot of stress to go around when you are trying to pull off an event for the first time. She was very grateful for all the celebrities who donated their time for a worthy cause; and, also, to Top Golf for donating their facility for the event.

I shall certainly try to be a participant again next year.

Also, there were plenty of fajitas!

mike-angel

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

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One Response to “1st Bob Allen Open for Sunshine Kids is a Hit”

  1. materene Says:

    A great gathering of friends and good people for sure, looks like all had a very good time,

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