In the aftermath of the earthquakes and tsunami that hit Japan earlier this month, several sports figures have made pledges to help in the relief efforts. Mariners RF Ichiro Suzuki said that he is donating about $1.25M to the Japanese Red Cross. The Mariners will “dedicate proceeds from the first six games" played at Safeco Field this season to Japan relief, "matching employee and fan contributions with a guarantee of $100,000” (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/19). A’s DH Hideki Matsui donated $620,000 to the Japanese Red Cross (LATIMES.com, 3/22). Braves P Kenshin Kawakami pledged a $50,000 donation to disaster relief, and the Braves organization, front-office staff and players “are in the process of gathering funds to be donated through the Japanese-American Society of Georgia” (AJC.com, 3/20). Bulls G Derrick Rose, Lakers C Pau Gasol, Trail Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge and Hawks F Al Horford are “pledging to donate $1,000 for every point they score in designated games this weekend” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/23). Several ATP World Tour members, including Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, took part in a charity soccer match Wednesday night against the NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. The event "raised $100,000 for Japanese relief efforts" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/25).
CHIPPING IN: Golfer Ryuji Imada pledged to “donate $1,000 toward relief efforts for every birdie he made" during last week's PGA Tour Transitions Championship. Imada played the first round “without making a single birdie," and his former college teammate, Bubba Watson, told Imada that he "would give $50,000 to the American Red Cross.” Watson “finished his final round Sunday, found a PGA Tour official and handed him a check for $50,000 for the Japan relief efforts.” Golfers Bobby Gates and Brandt Snedeker also pledged money based on their birdies, while K.J. Choi pledged $100,000 (AP, 3/22). Golfer Yani Tseng donated $25,000 to Japan Relief and another $25,000 to UNICEF’s effort in Japan. Fellow LPGA member Karrie Webb gave $100,000 to Peace Winds, "designating Japan as the beneficiary," while Japanese golfers Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato and Momoko Ueda announced that they have "joined forces to create a website to raise money for the relief effort.” The three created a Facebook page for the effort and designed a logo that they will "wear on buttons and pass out to other players" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 3/24).
GROUP EFFORT: Several other teams have joined the relief efforts. The Twins pledged $25,000, and the team's Wives Organization pledged $4,000 (Twins)....Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced NHL Panthers players have donated $10,000 for relief efforts (SSE)....The Rays will make a $10,000 donation to Save the Children to benefit the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund. The team also will “match up to $15,000 more in donations made by fans to Red Cross volunteers at the April 1-3 opening weekend series at Tropicana Field” (TAMPABAY.com, 3/21)....The Dolphins on Wednesday held a drive at Sun Life Stadium where volunteers “planned to spend the day collecting cash, blankets, flashlights and other items that will be donated to the American Red Cross and other agencies mounting relief operations in Japan” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/24)....Nike will donate $1M to relief efforts in Japan, as well as $250,000 “worth of footwear and apparel for disaster victims” (OREGONLIVE.com, 3/18).