November Nine member Dennis Phillips' poker blog.
Thanks to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for including me in their Top Ten Stories In St. Louis Sports In 2008.
Since returning from the Doyle Brunson Classic, I've actually had a few days back home, which I've spent working at Broadway Truck Center, celebrating Christmas with friends, and playing lots of cash games and a couple of tournaments at the local poker rooms here in St. Louis. Right after New Year's, I'll head to the Bahamas for the PCA at the Atlantis Resort. I've never been there, but I'm looking forward to seeing it and getting away from the winter weather.
Twice in the last six months, I have donated to Albert's foundation, which helps children with down’s syndrome, trying to improve their quality of life. He has also had success helping underprivileged kids in his homeland, the Dominican Republic. He has founded charities there, built ballparks, and helped with a variety of health-related issues, things that were missing when he was growing up.
A couple of weeks ago, the foundation held a big benefit at the Chase Park Plaza. I was lucky enough to be invited to their year-end overview of what they’ve accomplished and what they want to do going forward. This year, they put on a major effort to help Dominican kids who needed glasses. Albert teamed with Clarkson Eyecare to have optometrists and opticians outfit dozens of children, and the looks on their faces when they could finally see and read clearly was priceless. For 2009, Albert wants to do something similar with dental work for those kids. If you want to make a difference, this is an organization you need to look at.
Before the banquet, Albert invited me to a private get-together with his wife Dierdre and some athletes and celebrities I've admired, including Lou Brock, Rick Horton, Kerry Robinson, Mike Metheny (great talk, yes he is as nice a guy as I’ve heard), Ryan Franklin, and Chris Duncan. At one point, there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw a tall guy I should have recognized instantly, but it took me a minute to realize it was Darryl Strawberry. He started talking poker, saying he watched it on TV all the time and had seen me on the ESPN telecasts of the WSOP. Darryl has his own charity that helps people with autism, and he and Albert support each other's foundations whenever they can.
Later in the evening, there was a live auction with Channel 5's Rene Knott as the hilarious auctioneer. One of the items was a dinner provided by Dierdre Pujols, in which she would bring a couple of local chefs to your house and cook a seven course meal for ten. I’ve never had the privilege of having one of her meals, but people were telling me it would be a meal to die for. I think it went for $10,000.
The item that caught my eye was a unique one donated by Albert himself. During the 2008 All-Star game in NY, he had two special jerseys -- one from the home run derby and one from the game. He’s keeping the game shirt, but auctioned off the other one, which he signed. It’s Yankee blue (from the last All-Star game at the stadium) with his Cardinals emblem on the left sleeve, and the All-Star logo on the right sleeve.
I couldn't resist. This is the only one of these, from a future hall of famer, for a fabulous cause – plus, Rene wouldn’t let me stop bidding. Anytime someone made a higher bid, Rene automatically said I was bidding higher. In the end, the shirt was mine. Albert came up afterwards, shook my hand, and thanked me with that big grin of his. I told him I was happy to support the very worthy work he does, and I will find a prominent place to display it.
Have a Happy New Year. See you in 2009!
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