Rain, shine, ‘Play It Forward’ set for Wednesday

Written by Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat March 19, 2013 08:00 pm

Preparations continued over the weekend for a special event Wednesday celebrating both the Bret Harte Bullfrogs varsity baseball home opener and the life of a 17-year-old player who died earlier this year.

Sean Plummer, mother of the late Alex Marshall, said more donations collected over the weekend brought the total value of items that will be raffled to more than $20,000 at Bret Harte’s Mother Lode League opener against Argonaut, which will also include a special appearance by baseball legend Reggie Jackson.

Items range from a stand up paddle board and cosmetics package each worth more than $2,000 apiece to gift certificates for local businesses and restaurants. Raffle tickets will be $1 each.

The event dubbed “Play It Forward” is intended to raise money for Bret Harte High as well as a scholarship fund set up in the names of Alex and his 14-year-old sister, Macaila, who were both killed by their father, Philip Marshall, 54, in a murder-suicide at the family’s Murphys home in late January.

Despite forecasts by the National Weather Service predicting an 80 percent chance of rain in the area Tuesday through Wednesday afternoon, Plummer said the event will go on thanks to large tent covers that will be set up over the raffle items and other areas for shelter in case the rain hasn’t stopped by the time gates open at Bret Harte High’s varsity field at 3 p.m 

Plummer organized the event as a show of appreciation for Bret Harte High and the surrounding community that rallied to support her family in the tragedy’s wake.

Activites will start when gates open, with the game scheduled to begin an hour later at 4 p.m.

Jackson is set to throw the first pitch and wear Alex Marshall’s No. 15 jersey while sitting in place of the former Bullfrog slugger in Bret Harte’s dugout. Marshall played junior varsity baseball last season and his teammates before each game still hang his jersey in the spot above where he would have sat this year.

Jackson, also known by the nickname “Mr. October” for his clutch hitting in the postseason, is a 14-time All-Star who won three World Series titles as a member of the Oakland Athletics from 1972-74 and two more with the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Jackson will sign autographs for Bret Harte and Argonaut players only and has donated signed baseballs for the raffle. He is also set to speak to players from both teams before the game.

Plummer has been friends with Jackson through mutual friends for more than three decades. He is the godfather of Plummer’s eldest daughter.

Leadership students from both Argonaut and Bret Harte will man the concession stands and sell traditional baseball snacks in the bleachers. Dinner items including ribs, chicken and salad will be sold at the main concession stand.

Little League will run a lemonade stand in honor of Alex Marshall, who played since T-ball and recently served as an umpire. 

A DJ who played at Marshall’s 13th birthday party will provide music before and after the game, Plummer said.

“It’s definitely turning into much more than just a baseball game,” she said via telephone on Monday.