The 2011 Phillies Phestival to benefit the ALS Association raised $893,033 this year with a record crowd of 6,800 fans on Monday night.
The Phestival included player autographs, games, prizes, grab bags and photo opportunities.
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a fatal disease of the nervous system for which there is currently no cure.
ALS is also known, especially in baseball, as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease is named after the famous Yankee because he was one of the first public figures known to have died from the rare disease. Prior to this, few people knew about the illness.
These days, ALS affects approximately five out of every 100,000 people worldwide. It is a devastating illness which gets progressively worse over time.
The Phillies have held the Phestival to benefit research for ALS for 22 straight years now, raising over $12 million total in that time.
One of the nicest parts of the Phestival is seeing an entire team come out on their off-day to support a worthy cause.
This is Ryan Howard, signing a photo for me.
Many fans were especially excited to meet star pitcher, Cliff Lee. The ticket for this autograph booth was a very hot item.
The rookies and younger players had a blast chatting with fans and signing autographs.
Rookie pitcher Michael Stutes and second-year pitcher David Herndon had a nice laugh together with a group of fans.
The coaches were in on the action as well. First base coach Sam Perlozzo was in a jovial mood as he signed and talked with fans. Phillies broadcasters were on hand, as well.
Manager Charlie Manuel was available with the World Series trophies for photos. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and former GM, now Hall of Famer, Pat Gillick served in a photo booth as well.
Many players bring their families to the event. The wives hand out grab bags, talk to people about the charity and their children enjoy seeing the Phanatic and playing games.
But some family members who were unable to attend were still there in spirit. In the photo, you will see J.C. Romero talking on the phone to his Mom.
This is a nice reminder that for these guys, baseball is a job. And outside of their jobs, players are people, just like everyone else.
A number of both live and silent auction items were available to raise additional funds. There were signed bats, balls, cap, jerseys, photos and even bases. Game-used items were popular as well.
According to Phillies.com, the single item which brought in the most cash was a Halladay and Ruiz Game-Used Ball from the 2010 NLDS No Hitter. The winning bid was $4,700.
In the shade near the third base gate was a stand with grab bags for sale by the Phillies Wives. For $20, a fan received a reusable tote bag which contained a variety of mystery items.
A few examples of grab bag items included a signed caps, signed baseballs, bobblehead dolls, books, DVDs and even player jerseys.
The Phestival also offers a unique opportunity to simply enjoy the surroundings without a huge sell-out crowd of 45,000 fans.
You could watch the Phillies water the lawn, check out the Philadelphia skyline, take photos and see some amazing architecture, like the Citizen's Bank Park bell, up close and with an unobstructed view.
In short, it was a great chance to sit back and enjoy the ballpark.
One of the more curious things I noted at the Phestival was the choice in fashion for many of the players. I found at least eight different players all wearing plaid shirts, in a variety of colors and patterns.
This made me wonder, was this a planned theme, a coincidence or is plaid back in style and I am just late getting the news?
They all looked great no matter what they were wearing. But we all know that the Phillies look best in red pinstripes.