This past weekend three-time World Series-winning Manager and Baseball Hall of Famer, Tony La Russa, alongside Super Bowl Champion Quarterback, Brock Osweiler, hosted the Dinner of Champions at Steak 44 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Proceeds of this amazing event went to support Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) and the Honor House – a charity that Osweiler has partnered with to provide a complete transitional package that utilizes resources from the community to meet therapeutic needs of our Veterans affected by combat.
Prior to celebrities and patrons dining on five-star cuisine, a red carpet event was held outside to welcome some of the valley’s biggest names, allowing for photo opportunities and questions from the media.
Rumor has it that Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) was all started because of a stray cat that wandered out on to the field during a game between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. Pro Player Insiders had a chance to speak with Tony on the red carpet to find out just how the foundation that has saved over 40,000 cats and dogs began. “You know, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction,” Tony said. “It’s true, it was a feral cat that was feeding at the grounds off scraps and it ran out from a little hole in the bullpen – the Yankee bullpen in right center field. To tell the whole story, starting with that, you got to roll the tape. The cat couldn’t get back to his hole because all the Yankee guys were standing up it ran all the way around the dugout, around to us,” La Russa described. “By that time he was exhausted. I step out, there’s a famous picture, and the cat goes in to the bathroom and I lock the bathroom.”
After the game La Russa would attempt to take the cat to Oakland Animal Control but they were overwhelmed. The same would be said when they checked with the county. Tony was able to find a nook and cranny for the cat to live out its best days but once the offseason rolled around Tony decided it was time to start a non-profit – ARF was born. 28 years later and ARF continues to elevate pets in our society, enhance connections, and transform the bond between people and animals. In 2018, ARF earned the highest possible rating – four stars – from Charity Navigator for the 11th consecutive year. Only one percent of charities reach this milestone.
Joining La Russa and Osweiler on the red carpet was Hall of Fame Quarterback and Super Bowl Champion, Kurt Warner – along with his wife Brenda. I asked Kurt to tell us a little bit about his relationship with La Russa and Osweiler. “Well, actually you know Tony and I go way back, all the way back to St. Louis when he was the manager there so we got connected. He supported some events that we did I supported some of the things he did I was in one of his calendars back in the day so we’ve know each other for a long time,” Warner said. “We also have a special relationship with Brock and known him for a number of years as well so when they reached out about the combination of what they’re doing coupled with the fact that it all benefits Veterans, who have a special place in our heart with my wife being a Veteran, it just kind of seemed like the perfect fit. It’s right down the street, great restaurant, and it’s awesome to support other guys that are doing great things.”
Warner wouldn’t be the only former Arizona Cardinal in attendance. Former Head Coach and “Mr. No Risk-it, No Biscuit” himself, Bruce Arians, would grace us with his presence – and he’s still cooler than ever. After doing a little giving back of his own at the Arians Family Foundation golf tournament on Saturday, the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach made it a point to show some love at the Dinner of Champions event on Sunday evening. Arians has nothing but respect for La Russa. “I got to know him here (AZ). He invited me out a couple years ago to speak to the ball club when they were all in Spring Training and it was a lot of fun. Total respect for Tony.”
While La Russa and Osweiler continue to do great things, they’ll be the first to tell you the night couldn’t have been possible without the support of Steak 44. Opened in 2014 to stellar reviews, Steak 44 is the latest steakhouse masterpiece by Dennis, Michael, and Jeff Mastro – along with partner Scott Troilo. For years, these gentlemen have gone above and beyond in supporting their community and various charities, setting a true example for what it means to give back. It was an event to remember for everyone who had the opportunity to take part.
Others great humans in attendance were: Nate Boyer, Reggie Sanders, Robin Yount, and Jerry Reinsdorf.
To find out more about how you can support these great foundations please visit:
https://www.thehonorhouse.org/support-us (Honor House)
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