PHOENIX -- Former Major Leaguers Bob Lacey and Paul Thormodsgard sat in the Legends Suite at Chase Field Sunday afternoon and traded stories about their playing days.
As Lacey thumbed through a box of baseball and football cards he had brought with him, the two swapped tales of which players hit home runs off of them, and exchanged memories of playing for famous managers Billy Martin and Gene Mauch.
"Best manager to never win a World Series," Lacey said of Mauch.
Their experiences mirrored many former players who attended the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Alumni Day prior to the D-backs' home matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies. One of 15 alumni days the non-profit organization will hold through the season, the occasions are intended for players to reconnect with one another, and link up to work with a number of charities and clinics.
"I talk to a lot of former players, and they miss that," said Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president of operations for Major League Baseball. "Even with an event like this, the sort of instant camaraderie. These guys spend their lives in clubhouses, in dugouts, on buses, on planes and then it ends and they're sort of out of the light. This is a way for them to reconnect."
Founded in 1982, the MLBPAA was created to help players transition to life after baseball, as well as promote the game and raise money for charities. Right now, the organization is in the midst of a clinic schedule that features more than 100 different clinics in 10 different countries.
"I don't care -- as my dad used to say -- what the back of your baseball card looks like," Garagiola Jr. told the group of former players during the conference. "You were a big leaguer. And when you're on a field with a kid, that's all he knows. That's a big deal. It's a big deal to these kids to be out here on the field with you guys."
Sponsored by the University of Phoenix, the conference portion of the event served as an occasion for players to be made aware of the many ways they can stay connected.
"When you finally call it a career, it's nice to know that what you did all your life for MLB is there to help you in time of need," former D-backs pitcher and Hall of Famer Randy Johnson said. "I'm proud to say that through hard work and time, even current MLB players are now donating money to the alumni to be allocated to various people."This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.