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Baseball pitches in to help family of late reporter

Players, teams donating items for auction to benefit Richard Durrett Family Fund

Baseball pitches in to help family of late reporter play video for Baseball pitches in to help family of late reporter

Rhett Miller had only heard about Richard Durrett, but the Old 97's lead singer didn't know him.

But there was one thing Miller did know. When Durrett, a Rangers beat writer for ESPN Dallas, collapsed and passed away at 38 years old on June 17, he left behind two young children, 6-year-old Owen and 3-year-old Alice. Durrett left behind a loving wife, Kelly, and the couple's third baby, whom Kelly is carrying. He left behind a legacy so touching that Miller knew it was worth celebrating.

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Miller reached out to Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel shortly after Durrett's passing, telling Nadel that if something was organized in Durrett's memory, he'd be honored to volunteer his services and sing for it.

With the help of Nadel and Miller, a group of Rangers beat reporters -- including Emily Jones, Anthony Andro and Jeff Wilson -- have put together a benefit concert and sports auction Sept. 8 at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth to benefit the Richard Durrett Family Fund.

Andro and Wilson reached out to all 30 Major League clubs, gauging their interest in donating memorabilia to what has become a massive sports auction to help Durrett's family.

The response has been overwhelming, setting up Sept. 8 as the date for one of the biggest sports memorabilia auctions in history. Even sports enthusiasts who are not familiar with Durrett will be impressed with the quantity and quality of items to be auctioned that night. This could be the sports memorabilia collector's ultimate dream auction.

"We have heard from 29 of the 30 teams, and I believe we've already received stuff from 22 of the teams," Andro said Tuesday. "We're pretty confident that we'll be able to get something from every team."

The teams have sent items from their biggest stars. The Angels have sent autographed memorabilia from Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Yoenis Cespedes and the A's sent an autographed game-used jersey, while Derek Jeter and the Yankees sent an autographed game bat, as did Miguel Cabrera and former Rangers star Ian Kinsler, both of the Tigers.

Felix Hernandez of the Mariners has autographed a ball, and the Red Sox have sent 12 autographed balls from 11 players, including David Ortiz.

"The Orioles have been ridiculous," Jones said. "Buck Showalter and Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day, Chris Davis -- those guys have been tremendous. It's obviously a testament to the man that Richard was and the impact that he had on people. I think we're all just trying to do whatever we can to raise some money to make sure that his family will be taken care of. Every dime goes to the family foundation."

The Rangers have offered a dinner with general manager Jon Daniels, Rangers all-time hits leader Michael Young, Nadel, Jones and Dallas Morning News writer Evan Grant. To get a feel for a typical media routine on game day, fans can bid on an experience to spend the day covering the team with media, attending manager Ron Washington's pregame chat and postgame news conference.

What has impressed Andro the most has been the support from former Rangers.

"The way they have come forward -- David Murphy is ordering a Rangers jersey on his own and signing it to have it delivered, even though he's not with the Rangers anymore," Andro said. "Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Nellie Cruz -- all of Baltimore. Baltimore has given us everything they possibly could, and they're all former Rangers."

Andro explained that certain auction items will be grouped together.

"One auction item will be a game-used bat from Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz [and] Chris Davis, a glove from Tommy Hunter, balls from Cliff Lee [and] Marlon Byrd, and there's a couple others," Andro said. "And that's just one auction item."

Jones added that one of the live auction items is a white-glove tour of Cooperstown, the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame, including two hotel rooms. Autographed memorabilia from Hall of Famers will be bundled together with it.

"The material that all the teams in MLB have donated for this auction truly constitutes a world-class grouping of baseball collectibles which any auction house would be proud to offer," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. "Richard Durrett was a great friend of professional sports, a superb writer and a dedicated family man. This is a fitting tribute to him, his work, his memory and all the friends he left behind with his untimely passing."

All of the proceeds will go to Durrett's family, something Jones said she hopes makes the tragic death of the husband and father a little bit more bearable. Miller will perform, as will Daphne Willis, Casey Donahew and other stars yet to be named.

Forty of Durrett's family members are expected to be in attendance, including his wife, father, brother and sister-in-law. There will be a room set aside specifically for them.

"What [Kelly Durrett] keeps telling me is she keeps saying Richard wouldn't believe this," Jones said. "The lengths that people are going to [in order] to help his family -- that he wouldn't believe it."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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