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‘Evening at the Ballpark’ celebrates partnership between Boys & Girls Clubs, Major League Baseball

Nearly 175 Boys & Girls Club supporters and baseball fans enjoyed an exclusive season preview of the Boston Red Sox with unfiltered commentary provided by a trio of current players.

The players – catcher Connor Wong, pitcher Brennan Bernardino and left fielder Tyler O’Neill – participated in a Players Panel moderated by Red Sox broadcaster Tom Caron that covered clubhouse dynamics, weather, fan expectations, analytics and the evolution of America’s pastime.

The conversation was the highlight of Evening at the Ballpark, a fundraising event for Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County held March 14 at JetBlue Park that featured appetizers, drinks, activities, games, raffle prizes and photos on the concourse. Guests then moved inside the stadium for autographs, dinner on the outfield grass and a silent auction.

“Major League Baseball and Boys & Girls Clubs of America have enjoyed a great relationship for nearly three decades, and the partnership has impacted so many children and teens across the country, including right here in Southwest Florida,” said Denise Gergley, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County. “Although spring training only lasts six weeks, the positive impact in our community is felt year-round thanks to support for events like Evening at the Ballpark.”

Evening at the Ballpark raised $67,000 to support Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County’s After-school Program and Summer Enrichment Program, which focus on five core areas: education and career, service and leadership, health and wellness, the arts, and sports and recreation. Boys & Girls Clubs operates eight community, neighborhood and school programs in Lee County.

Prior to the Players Panel, Bernardino took a moment to encourage community members to support Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County, which strives to help young people reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.

“Being in a house where you go home and no parents are there, it’s hard to make the right decisions, it’s hard to have the guidance,” Bernardino said. “If you can go to the Boys & Girls Club, you’re amongst your peers, your classmates and kids from other schools, and you’re being watched over and taught the right things while your parents are out there at work. On the parents’ side, it’s amazing knowing that your kids are well looked after.”

At the event’s conclusion, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County asked audience members to sponsor 50 youth for the Summer Enrichment Program at a sponsorship cost of $500 each. In less than five minutes, the organization received enough pledges to cover fees for 51 students, including a generous pledge from the Red Sox Foundation to sponsor 20 youth.

Seagate Development Group and Scotlynn were Title Sponsors for Evening at the Ballpark. Grand Slam Sponsors included Gulf Coast Business Bank, Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU), CVS Health and the Red Sox Foundation. Home Run Sponsors were Allyn International, Jaguar Land Rover Fort Myers, Coca-Cola Florida and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Table Sponsors included Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Cheffer and Hagan PA, Pacific Peak, Allyn International, the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers and Suncoast Credit Union. In-kind Sponsors were J.J. Taylor Companies, Coca-Cola Florida and the Ted Williams Foundation, which provided more than a dozen historical items for the baseball memorabilia auction.


Red Sox broadcaster Tom Caron asked the Players Panel to address their expectations as the 2024 regular season gets underway. All three were highly optimistic about this year’s team.

Connor Wong: “We’re just going to go out there and do our best to try to win ballgames. I don’t think it’s about who’s on the other side. It’s about us – if we take care of what we need to take care of, I think we’ll be alright.”

Brennan Bernardino: “We have enough pitching. We’re a good team, and this year, we’ve got a lot of guys healthy. That was an issue with last year; it’s part of the game, people get injured. If we stay healthy this year, we have a great pitching staff… I’ve got really high hopes for this year.”

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