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“Meet Me at the Pop-a-Shot”: Dee Gordon combines love of fun with desire to give back

This Monday challenge Dee and teammates to games at Dave and Buster’s in Auburn. But don’t expect to win at Pop-a-Shot against Dee.

Colorado Rockies v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

This Monday, September 10 from 7-10 PM at Dave and Buster’s in Auburn, Dee Gordon is teaming up with Big League Impact to support Dee’s Striking Out Poverty initiative. $40 gets you in the door, an Unlimited Video Game Power Card, and lets you challenge Dee and friends out on the game floor. A limited number of VIP tickets are available at $200 which include a meet-and-greet and autograph session, plus food and drinks. Purchase tickets here.

I’ve noticed a curious thing over my time working in the non-profit sector (also: any child who completes a full slate of youth sports or Catholic schooling should be allowed to list “fundraising professional” on their resumes after graduating high school, but I digress): those who have less tend to give more, proportionally. This is something that’s backed up by studies, such as this one, or this one that found that adults who define themselves as relatively lower-earners compared to their higher-income peers gave 44% more “credits” to faceless entities in a lab study. Researchers differ on the interpretation or reasoning behind this—and strained economic times can heighten these differences—but I have my own theory. Those who have been given a hand up are more likely to give others a hand up, or those who are closer to the lower socioeconomic strata have more compassion or understanding for those who are at those levels.

In baseball, those who are just getting established in the league do charitable giving, but often don’t have foundations of their own. More common is for younger players to hook up with already-existing charities that represent a cause dear to their hearts, like Kris Bryant with the Wings For Life Foundation or Mookie Betts with the Will to Live Foundation, while more seasoned players like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Albert Pujols, and David Ortiz have established their own foundations. Establishing a Foundation isn’t just deciding to throw a bunch of charity events; it involves a fair amount of paperwork and planning, things best done by an outside professional, especially given a baseball player’s taxing schedule.

It’s just another thing that makes Dee Gordon special.

Gordon was just 26 when he created the Flash of Hope Foundation after being traded to his home-state Marlins, a program designed to help children who, like Dee, lost a parent to domestic violence. The Marlins media team asked him to list his hobbies, interests, and if he had any desire to become involved with local charity efforts. Suddenly, a light clicked on.

You give a lot when you know what exactly you’re giving to.

“I have to give back,” Dee says. “I don’t know no other way to be. I wouldn’t want to.”

It’s something that’s been a challenge for Gordon this year, pulled away from his home base in Miami and the locus of his Foundation. “But you do what you have to do,” he says. He’s been able to reach out and continue the Flash of Hope program here, bringing families to the ballpark and spending time with them before each game. “I always want to make time and let them know someone cares about them,” he says.

Much like teammate Denard Span, Gordon doesn’t believe in just writing a check; he aims to build a personal connection that goes beyond a one-time experience. He has an annual basketball tournament in the off-season in Florida benefitting his Foundation that he invites the families to attend, and he hosts them at games throughout the season.

Beyond his own community, Dee considers himself a citizen of the world at large. He’s been out to support teammates’ charitable efforts this year, and he plans to appear at Edwin Díaz’s charity baseball tournament this summer. Dee has done extensive work in the Dominican Republic serving communities there, such as donating a water-purification system to a small community that had just gotten running water the past year. This off-season, he plans to spread his mission further with a trip to Rwanda.

Dee Gordon with the water purifier he purchased for Camarón, Dominican Republic

But for now, Gordon is happy to be able to partner with Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright’s foundation Big League Impact, which connects players and fans in fun experiences for a good cause, as well as Striking Out Poverty, an organization he’s worked with in the past. He’s also pleased to be able to participate in an event that—with a $40 get-in price—makes the giving experience more accessible to more people. (There is a VIP level at $200 that allows access for autographs and personal meet-and-greets, as well as a buffet and drink tickets, or for $20 extra you can enter a raffle to win signed merchandise and other prizes.) Tickets are available here.

Since Dee will be joined by some of his Mariners teammates—any of whom you can challenge to a game—I asked Dee which of Dave and Buster’s various games his teammates would be best/worst at.

Pop-a-Shot:

Best: “Me. That’s all I do.”

Worst: Denard Span. “That’s my boy, though.”

Skee-Ball:

Best: Mitch Haniger. “He’s really accurate. Plus he’s so focused and like, methodical. He’d be figuring out all the angles and all that.”

Worst: Himself. “I always go for the 100 points and miss. I aim too high. But I gotta go big.”

Racing games:

Best: Chris Herrmann.

Worst: Himself. “Because I never, ever use the brake.”

Hunting/Shooting games:

Best: “Gamel. Or maybe Seager. One of those two. They’re always talking about hunting.”

Worst: Himself.

Here I protest that he’s making himself the worst at almost everything and accuse him of sandbagging himself so people will show up at the event trying to get one over on him. “Nah,” says Dee. “I just spend all my time on one thing, so I’m really good at it. Meet me at the Pop-a-Shot.”

On Monday, you can.

Event Info:

Monday, September 10 at 7 PM – 10 PM PT

Dave and Busters Auburn, WA

1101 Outlet Collection Drive, Auburn, Washington 98001

Tickets available here or here.