BRIDGEWATER – Operation Shoebox New Jersey will host a “doubleheader” at TD Bank Ballpark Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26.
Volunteers are needed to help assemble care packages that will be shipped overseas on Saturday, July 25th.
Volunteers are asked to arrive at the ballpark no later than 11 a.m. for the packing event. All volunteers that participate in the packing will be given a free ticket to a Patriots’ game.
On Sunday, July 26th for the 5:05 pm game against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs where the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a Patriotic Baseball Cap presented by Operation Shoebox New Jersey.
The New Jersey State Society of Auctioneers will hold an auction of special edition Patriotic game-worn Somerset Patriots jerseys from that day’s game. The Patriotic game-worn jerseys and sports memorabilia sold at the auction will benefit Operation Shoebox New Jersey.
After the game, a select group of players will stand atop the Patriots’ dugout alongside auctioneers from the New Jersey State Society of Auctioneers who will compete in the Fifth annual NJSSA Bid Calling Contest. A panel of judges will select the winner.
Each game-worn uniform will go to the highest bidder and will be signed by the player. Fans will also have the opportunity to win several Patriots’ jerseys during the game; Operation Shoebox New Jersey volunteers will run a Tricky Tray auction and select winning tickets at the conclusion of the seventh inning of the game.
Upwards of two dozen items will be up for bid as auctioneers from across New Jersey compete against one another to be selected Auctioneer of the Year.
Somerset Patriots and Sparky Lyle memorabilia will highlight the Sunday sale, to be held at the conclusion of the game.
Fans will have a chance to view the display of items to be sold on the concourse.
“It’s a great time, a great outing for the family,” said Alfred Finocchiaro, winner of the 2011 Bid Calling contest. “Auctions are as American as baseball and hot dogs.”
Because of television shows like “American Pickers,” “Pawn Brokers” and “Storage Wars,” there’s been a noticeable uptick in attendance at auctions, according to Finocchiaro.
“Television is shining a whole new light on one of the oldest professions there is,” he said. “It’s great entertainment,” Finnochiaro continued, “plus at almost every auction, I don’t care if it’s backyard estate sale or at Sotheby’s, there’s always a bargain to be had if you’re a sharp buyer and if you pay attention.”
Standing atop the Patriots’ first base dugout, the auctioneers will sell a variety of Somerset Patriots’ and Major League sports memorabilia, including autographed baseballs, lithographs, vintage baseball cards, sports banners and other items. Judges will watch and listen closely, grading contestants on their ability to sell and entertain the crowd.
Nationally-renowned sports artist and Flemington resident James Fiorentino will donate a limited-edition print to be sold at the auction.
A limited edition signed portrait of Patriots’ Manager Emeritus and former New York Yankees pitcher Sparky Lyle by Fiorentino will also be sold to the highest bidder. Honored as Atlantic League Manager of the Year three times during his tenure with the Patriots, Lyle had an 18-year career in the Major Leagues, winning the Cy Young Award with the New York Yankees in 1977.
Auction highlights also include a spectacular Somerset Patriots Experience package which includes a Hospitality Suite For 30 people (food and beverages are not included); throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game; a chance to be on the field and in the dugout as Honorary Bat Boy or Bat Girl and a pre-game “Meet and Greet” with Patriots manager Brett Jodie, Lyle and players.
Everyone in the stands will be eligible to participate in the auction, with auction spotters scattered throughout the stands to ensure everyone’s bid.
All monies raised during the auction of the sports memorabilia will be donated to Operation Shoebox New Jersey, according to New Brunswick auctioneer Joe Bodnar, former president of the NJSSA and past winner of the bid calling contest.
“We’re honored, privileged and excited to be a part of this unique event,” said Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey. “We’ve assembled some high quality sports memorabilia in hopes that fans will stay after the game for the opportunity to bid - and bid often - on collectibles and opportunities that don’t come along that often.”
OPSHBX NJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that ships personal care packages to U.S. troops overseas.
Reduced price tickets for the July 26 NJSSA Bid Calling Contest and Sports Memorabilia Auction are available by contacting OPSHBX NJ at (908) 698-0333.