Zimmerman hosts 'A Night at the Park'

Zimmerman hosts 'A Night at the Park'

Zimmerman hosts 'A Night at the Park'
WASHINGTON -- The second annual "A Night at the Park" was held Thursday night at Nationals Park. The event was hosted by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

The event helped raise money to find a treatment and cure for multiple sclerosis. There were $63,200 raised at the live auction, which included a trip to the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix and the tennis US Open in New York.

During the live auction, Nationals reliever Todd Coffey donated $2,200 and won a trip to the Masters Tournament. He received two single-day passes to next year's Wednesday's practice round and Par 3 tournament.

There was also a silent auction. People at the event had a chance to acquire Zimmerman's jersey, Buster Posey's Rookie of the Year bat, a Shaquille O'Neal-signed basketball and a signed football signed by Eli and Payton Manning.

"We have some interesting things," Zimmerman said. "There were some great live auction items this year. It's just going to get better and better each year. Last year was kind of a stepping stone. We learned from it and it was great last year. It shaping up to be a lot better."

Coffey had his eyes on a framed photo of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. He also wanted to buy a framed picture of singer Justin Bieber for his daughter. It's not known if Coffey was able to obtain the pictures.

"There are several things I'm looking at right now," Coffey said. "I'm out there keeping my eye on it -- making sure I'm the only bid so I could win."

The event also featured a special performance from country music star Rodney Atkins, who has a brother-in-law with MS, according to Zimmerman. Atkins sang fan favorites such as "Cleaning the Gun," "Farmer's Daughter" and "Watching You."

"It means a lot to my family that Rodney comes out here and does this," Zimmerman said.

Nationals Park was transformed into an intimate concert hall for 1,000 guests. A custom stage was built on the outside concourse of the Presidents' Club with attendees sitting in the Diamond Club seats.

MS is a disease close to Ryan's heart. In 1995, his mother Cheryl was diagnosed with MS, a chronic and unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system.

As President of the ziMS Foundation, which he founded in 2006, Zimmerman is excited to give back to his community and find a cure for this debilitating disease. The 2010 "A Night At The Park" raised roughly $200,000 for the ziMS Foundation

"It's personal with my mom having it," Zimmerman said. "It's good to be able to give back. So many people have helped me get where I am now. This is not only for my mom, we have met a number of families and people who have been affected by this disease. For me to be able to have the platform and the resources to give back just a little bit is the least I could do."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.