As the college baseball season begins to wind down, New Mexico Junior College will once again be hosting its Play Pink game. The event will be held on Sunday when the Thunderbirds host Midland College at Ray Birmingham Field.
New Mexico Junior College head baseball coach Jimmy Durham started the Play Pink fundraiser when he took over as the skipper of the baseball team back in 2017. Durham wanted to help give back to the organization that helped him when his late wife was battling cancer, a fight she eventually lost.
"This is to bring awareness to Angel Flight," Durham said. "For all that they do for free for cancer patients and their families."
This will be the third year of the Play Pink game at NMJC and like in years past, all the funds that are raised will go to Angel Flight. However, the biggest difference this year has been the way funds have been raised. Instead of just raising funds through an auction and t-shirt sales at the baseball game, fund raisers were held via an online auction as well as raffling off items during NMJC basketball games.
"We are doing it a little different," Durham said. "We did auctions during basketball games and we did an auction during the fall online of sports memorabilia. This year we won't do any sports memorabilia at the game or anything leading up to that. We will just sell t-shirts and that's it."
While the online auction did raise money for Angel Flight, which was the idea, Durham said it didn't do as well as he and NMJC Athletic Director had hoped it would do.
"It was done by Angel Flight on their website," Durham said. "We didn't do as well as I thought. We did better just doing raffle tickets at basketball games for one item."
Durham is hoping to go back to a more localized auction process next season, with potential buyers and bidders being able to see the items on site and make bids up through the day of the game when the auction ends.
"There are a lot of people who have more interests and show up to those games for those types of items," the T-Birds' skipper said. "I will do it the old fashion way where we put it in the paper. I want to get on the radio again and do it locally and announce it as well."
The T-shirts NMJC will be selling are pink shirts with white lettering. They say Play Pink and have a baseball on them with the outline of a baseball diamond. New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds logo goes across the diamond with NM being placed on home plate on the bottom of the diamond. The T-Birds won't just be selling pink shirts at their game on Sunday though. The team will also wear pink jerseys and also use pink bases according to Durham.
"We give every cent of it to Angel Flight because they donate every bit of their time and airplanes and fuel and everything else," the T-Birds skipper said. "Nobody ever has to pay for anything, and that is ground transportation too. It is a tremendous service."
All of the proceeds from the shirts will go to Angel Flight. Durham believes that in the first two years, the Play Pink game and its fundraisers have raised over $12,000.
The game was originally slated for Saturday, but has since been moved to Sunday because of possible cold weather and threats of rain.
The T-Birds come into the series with Midland College sporting a 26-9 record for the season and a 17-3 mark in Western Junior College Athletic Conference. The T-Birds are one game out of first place and one game ahead of third place. NMJC trails Odessa College (18-2) and is ahead of Midland College (16-4).