PHOENIX -- Lance Berkman leads all Major League Baseball players with a .602 slugging percentage and 1.006 OPS. He is back with a vengeance in 2011, ready to start in his sixth All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Chase Field, this time representing the Cardinals.
He also makes a great fried catfish with special sauce, and a great Hawaiian pizza to watch college football games. He'll eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a little honey on it "fairly consistently" before games, and he says that "influencing others and loving others, caring for others, is what I hope that I am remembered for more than anything."
Good food for a good cause was the theme for Berkman, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton on Monday at MLB FanFest, where the three All-Stars stopped in to help author Julie Loria, wife of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, sign copies of her successful book "Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseball's Biggest Stars." All proceeds of the sales of her book on Monday benefited Stand Up To Cancer, a key player again in this All-Star Week.
"Anytime you can raise money for a worthy organization, and certainly Stand Up To Cancer is that, it's a great thing," Berkman said while signing one copy after another.
Berkman, Cabrera and Hamilton are among the 20 active stars who opened up their home kitchens to Loria for this book. Berkman, who advises the book's readers that catfish are "done when they're floating," said at the Phoenix Convention Center event: "It looks like a great cookbook, for sure. I like to eat, so it wasn't too hard."
Loria said she was "really touched" by the presence of these three particular All-Stars, considering the pandemonium that is Gatorade All-Star Workout Day.
"What it means to have these three All-Stars here to sign 'Diamond Dishes' and to benefit Stand Up To Cancer really touched all of us," she said. "These guys, as you know just looking around here, it's quite a busy schedule for them. They are busy every minute of the day. For them to take time out from their busy day and come here on their own and support such a great cause, I think we are all touched and moved by just the dedication players show. It's really incredible."
This event was one of many at All-Star Week involving Stand Up To Cancer. MLB was the founding sponsor of the initiative, which has attracted donors of every type to its movement. Largely in connection with two televised specials, $180 million has been pledged to support groundbreaking "translational" cancer research designed to move developments from the laboratory phase to new treatments that will benefit people battling cancer in record time. Currently, 355 scientists from 55 institutions collaborate, interact and share information through Stand Up to Cancer. Last fall, one game during the World Series was again dedicated entirely to SU2C, and MLB and its clubs join forces with the group year-round.
Sue Schwartz, one of the SU2C co-founders, said the Monday book sales would have an immediate impact. It was also helpful, from an awareness standpoint, that the book signing happened smack-dab in the middle of the busiest part of FanFest, where the main escalator went up and down.
"We're really grateful to Julie and the Marlins and all of Major League Baseball. The book is phenomenal," Schwartz said. "It's not only got terrific recipes but great stories from some of the All-Star players. We're really grateful that the proceeds are benefiting Stand Up, which is all about getting non-toxic therapies to patients quickly. So this donation will help us fund our Dream Teams and our innovative research grants, to help us bring a cure to patients faster.
"All-Star Week for us is really exciting. Major League Baseball was our founding donor and they continue to be enormously supportive of us. For this All-Star Week, we have not only this book signing here at FanFest, but we have a number of other things that are going on."
Other Stand Up To Cancer involvement at All-Star Week includes:
Through MLB and MasterCard, a number of SU2C's doctors, scientists and cancer survivors are attending the All-Star fantasy camp. "We're all about creating dream teams of doctors, and this gives us an opportunity to have our actual doctors play ball along with some survivors and participate in that terrific experience," Schwartz said.
One of the All-Star Cacti on Parade, situated throughout the Greater Phoenix area, will be auctioned off by MLB to benefit Stand Up To Cancer.
During the All-Star Game, a number of different SU2C public-service announcements will run. Most notably, there will be a special moment after the sixth inning including a tribute to Laura Ziskin, the Stand Up co-founder who died last month at age 61, seven years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Loria said the book was a way to combine her two lifetime passions, baseball and food. The other 17 stars featured in the Lyons Press book are Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Josh Johnson, Paul Konerko, Evan Longoria, Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Johan Santana, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley and David Wright.
It even includes Hamilton's own iced tea recipe, and on a midday Monday like the one in Phoenix, that sounded especially like a treat.
"I think the reason people are attracted to this, first of all it's never been done before," Loria said. "Also, it's a real behind-the-scenes look into the players' lives, and a glimpse of them that you've never seen before. In the book, there are these wonderful photographs of them at home in their kitchens, in their own homes, just talking about food and baseball. So it's been a fun sort of never-before-seen glimpse at some of our favorite players.
"This turned into a worthy cause and we are thrilled to be a part of it."