Pitching coach Price helps Stand Up To Cancer
Young Reds fan receives tips after father won auction at Winter Meetings
CINCINNATI -- When Philadelphia resident Kirk Putt went to a 2008 World Series game between the Rays and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, a very specific part of the day stood out to him.
During the game, an ad played for Major League Baseball's work with Stand Up To Cancer, an organization founded in May 2008 that works to "accelerate innovative cancer research."
The message struck Putt, because the year before that game, both his mother (melanoma) and father (bladder) were diagnosed with cancer. Since then, Putt followed the organization and its work with Major League Baseball, which led him to MLB public relations' Stand Up To Cancer project at the Winter Meetings.
During the meetings, an online auction was held featuring various items, including the opportunity for a lesson from Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. Putt's 13-year-old son, Max, grew up an avid Reds fan, so Putt jumped at the opportunity.
Max lived out his dream and the story came full circle for the Putts on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
"It's a great combination to do something good and give [Max] a really unique experience, which it was," the elder Putt said. "It was fantastic. It was just a really neat experience."
The auction that made Saturday happen raised $152,700 for Stand Up To Cancer and gave Max a chance to do something he never thought possible. Although he was born and raised in Philadelphia, Max said he's been a Reds fan as long as he's been a baseball fan.
"When I was younger, I loved a lot of their players," Max said. "Like Aroldis Chapman, he's one of my favorite pitchers, so it was cool to be able to pitch in the same bullpen he gets to."
Price and Max, who plays travel baseball year-round, spent time working on mechanics and other little things to improve as a pitcher, putting the seventh grader ahead of most kids his age.
"This definitely helped me improve," Max said. "This was probably the coolest pitching experience I've ever had."
The Putts watched Saturday's game from behind the Reds' dugout. Between the lesson and Mat Latos' first pitch against the Brewers, the two watched Johnny Cueto throw a bullpen session of his own, and Kirk Putt said he was glad his son could see how hard Major League players work.
Most importantly, less than five years after learning about Stand Up To Cancer and its efforts with Major League Baseball, Putt was happy to report that both of his parents have battled through their fights with cancer and are alive and well, making Saturday's experience a sort of celebration.
"The whole thing is great," Putt said. "Just perfect."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.