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Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay benefits from Alex Rodriguez' bonus settlement

Alexis Peterson, wearing a black shirt, and others watch Dennis Martinez, center, and SaDonnie Kitchen, right, wearing a white T-shirt, play foosball on Monday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay facility at 1301 N Boulevard in Tampa.
Alexis Peterson, wearing a black shirt, and others watch Dennis Martinez, center, and SaDonnie Kitchen, right, wearing a white T-shirt, play foosball on Monday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay facility at 1301 N Boulevard in Tampa.
Published Jul. 7, 2015

TAMPA

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay had no idea that part of a $1 million donation from the New York Yankees was coming their way. But they'll take it. • "We are thrilled to hear news of the contribution that will be coming from the New York Yankees," president and CEO Brad Baumgardner said in a statement Monday. "Though the details of this gift have not yet been worked out, we are committed to investing it into the very heart and soul of our organization — our kids."

The donation is part of a settlement between the Yankees and controversial slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was due for a $6 million bonus for hitting his 660th home run in May, tying legend Willie Mays. But last year he was suspended for drug use, and whether the Yankees would pay him that bonus was unclear.

A dispute loomed, but on Friday, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that in place of a bonus, the Yankees will donate $3.5 million to charities. Of that, $2.5 million will go to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, which offers after-school and mentoring programs to youth, will split the remaining $1 million with the Tampa-based Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which gives scholarships to the children of special operations personnel killed in action, and Pitch In for Baseball, which donates baseball equipment to communities in need.

Meredith Kim, Pitch In for Baseball's development director, said the organization recently received another donation from the Yankees — $150,000 from Rodriguez's bonus for his 3,000th hit. She said the details of the home run donation aren't clear, but any amount helps.

"For a small nonprofit, gifts of that size are a game-changer," Kim said. "It enables us to have greater reach, greater vision and, most importantly, it allows us to help more kids."

Officials with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation could not be reached for comment Monday.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, which serves Hills­borough and Pasco counties, has worked closely with the Yankees in the past. The organization was one of the many beneficiaries of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's philanthropy, and its West Tampa branch is named after him. The annual Yankees luncheon is its biggest fundraiser — A-Rod himself made appearances at many of them.

Cassandra Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Boys & Girls Club, said the organization hasn't heard from the Yankees yet; it found out about the donation, along with everyone else, through media reports and social media. They don't know exactly how much money they'll receive, or what they'll do with it — but they're glad to have it.

"Every dollar counts and is significant in providing opportunities for our group, whether in creating a program, providing a scholarship, running a feeding program," Thomas said. "There are so many endless possibilities for gifts that we receive from people and companies. Depending on the size of the gift, we're going to invest in an area that will have the most impact."

Contact Emily McConville at emcconville@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @emmcconville.

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