Baseball brothers lend a hand

Published 9:12 am Saturday, December 12, 2009

COURTLAND—Baseball stars Justin and B.J. Upton will appear at a Southampton High School fundraiser on Tuesday to help raise money to improve athletic facilities at the high school.

The Sports Gala, which will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, is the kickoff event for the fundraising campaign.

The first-round draft picks will be on hand to visit with people and sign autographs. Justin Upton is a right fielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks. B.J. Upton plays center field for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Virginia natives are the two highest-drafted brothers ever. B.J. was the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. Arizona took Justin as their first pick in 2005.

Rose said they remain down-to-earth and willing to give.

“This just shows what kind of people they are,” said Administrator Larry Rose, athletic facilities improvement committee co-chairman. “I told them what we were trying to do, and they are very excited about trying to help us. The brothers told their father just today to tell me, ‘Tell the old man that we’ll do this for him.’ They always call me old man — that stems from a friendship between my wife and I with their mother and father since they were ‘pups’. And it is unbelievable the support that we have had so far.

“The impact of this project will be tremendous,” continued Rose, “and this event will be a great way to kick it off.”

Admission to the gala is a $5 donation. Each autograph signed by the brothers will be $10 and autographed pictures with either player will go for $25 each. There will also be a silent auction for the jerseys of both athletes, as well as other sports items. All proceeds will go to the school’s Athletic Facilities Improvement Fund.

“It is great to get men like the Upton brothers up here to help us out with our cause,” said Rose.

Southampton High School had an assembly on Dec. 9, where they informed the students of all the slated improvements, through what Rose described as a very strong PowerPoint presentation, “and the kids were just excited about it,” said Rose.

“These kids last week raised $3,200 for the Trooper Hill Toy giveaway,” said Rose, “These kids are excited about what we are doing, and we are just as excited as they are. We are like a bunch of kids right now ourselves.”

Initial projects are already under way to upgrade the baseball and softball fields and install security fencing for the spring sports area.

“All of this is starting right now,” said Rose. “We hope most of that to be under way well before the first of the year. Some of it may be finished before the first of the year.”

Other upgrades include renovations to the stadium restrooms and concession stand, and the building of restrooms and a concession stand for spring sports.

Rose said, “At our football facility we want to renovate the entire bathroom by knocking out a wall on the backside of that bathroom that when gone will roughly add two to four times the size of the current bathroom.”

Rose noted that you can walk around Southampton High and see that since it was opened in 1993, the students have done a good job taking care of what has been given to them.

“These kids are definitely not ones to take anything for granted,” he said.

The emphasis of this gala is to raise funds that will be needed for future projects, such as lights for the baseball and softball fields as well as a track for the school.

There has not been a track meet at Southampton since 1987. There have never been lights on either the baseball or softball field. Rose said that most of the students have never played baseball or softball at night while at Southampton High.

“They have always been good kids, taking what you give them and doing the best with what they have…” Rose said.

One thing that Rose wants people to know before coming to the event is that this is about getting something for the children.

“This is not about us,” said Rose, “It’s about giving these kids a track; its about giving these kids some lighted fields; its about giving them a field house and tennis courts and stuff that they just don’t have. “

For more information, contact Southampton High School at (757) 653-2751.