The clock is ticking until the best live and silent auctions of sports memorabilia and sports experiences this area or any area have seen in some time.Trust me. Many of the items were sent to my home office, and even my sports-oblivious wife was shocked by the names on the autographed bats, balls and jerseys that were regularly arriving at the house.All 30 teams in Major League Baseball are represented. So are the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars. So are the San Antonio Spurs, the reigning NBA champs, and the team they beat to reach the finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder.The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is on the list, and so is MLB itself. Items from Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR, area colleges and the Cotton Bowl can be had. PGA and LPGA tour stops are involved. ESPN, Fox Sports and local radio hosts are part of the auctions.All it takes to get an opportunity to bid on the times is buying a ticket for the Do It for Durrett Benefit Concert, which will be held Sept. 8 at Billy Bobs Texas in the Fort Worth Stockyards.Collectors of sports memorabilia would be nuts to not attend. And then theres the music featuring the Billy Bobs All-Stars of Texas Country. The headlining acts cant be revealed because of radius clauses, but theyre big. The Casey Donahew Band, Rhett Miller and Daphne Willis can and have been announced. They alone are worth the price of admission $20 advance, $30 at the door.All money from the auctions will to go the Richard Durrett Family Fund, established by the Texas Rangers to support the family of the sportswriter and friend to so many who passed away suddenly June 16 at age 38.You didnt have to know Richard to attend. If youre a memorabilia dealer who wants to buy an item and flip it on eBay, see you in eight days. And bring a couple of friends.But those who did know him have contributed items because they want to help the family. And no team was as generous as the Baltimore Orioles, for a couple of reasons.The Orioles, of course, are Rangers East. Four former players, the manager and multiple coaches have ties to the Rangers, and they knew Richard and dealt with him as he reported his stories for the Dallas Morning News and ESPNDallas.com.They paid him the ultimate compliment he was a professional.Exactly, said left fielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz, the major-league leader in home runs (34). He never crossed the line in any situation, especially with me. You respect those guys.Cruz and the former Rangers also knew that Richard was a family man, a devoted husband and father. Cruz, a husband and father of two, wanted to help Richards wife, Kelly, and children, Owen, Alice and a third due in January.Cruz called the day after he heard about Richards death, and one of his first questions was, How can I help?I knew him and what kind of person he was, Cruz said. I cant imagine how my wife and my son or my daughter would feel without me. Whatever theyre going through, its painful.Sadly, the Orioles dealt with the loss of a dear friend in February, when PR director Monica Barlow lost her battle with cancer, again far too soon at age 36.First baseman Chris Davis worked closely with her last season as he was on the road to the a 53-homer season and the innuendo of performance-enhancing drugs that came long with it.He had an ally by his side when he met the talk head-on at the All-Star Game, and she also helped him make a smooth transition to Baltimore after the 2011 trade from the Rangers.A large contingent of Orioles players and staff left spring training and flew to Virginia so that they could attend Barlows memorial service.I was glad we did it, Davis said. We didnt want it to be about us. We wanted it to be about Monica. We wanted her family and friends to know that we supported them. The Orioles have acted similarly for Richards family. Autographed bats by Cruz and Davis are part of a former Rangers auction package, which also includes autographed glove by another Ranger-turned-Oriole, Tommy Hunter, as well as autographed items from Ian Kinsler, David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.But the Orioles, who donated eight items, werent trying to outdo other teams. Donating to Do It for Durrett wasnt a competition, and many others like Kinslers Detroit Tigers and the Houston Astros, to name two sent multiple items.It was something players and teams, even the ones who had little to no dealings with Richard, wanted to do. What the Orioles, the 29 other MLB teams, and athletes and teams from all sports have donated has turned into live and silent auctions that shouldnt be missed Sept. 8.I felt the same way about Richard as I did when Monica passed way, Davis said. Anything that we can do, were more than willing.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST