Current Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2013 04:45:25 -0500
Benton Moss stood in front of the Boshamer Stadium dugout, running his hand over his freshly shaven head.
“I feel cool,” he said, as a brisk spring breeze blew over the field. “As in cold.”
But Moss wasn’t just chilly. No, the wide grin stretching across his face showed that he felt cool in that other way, too.
He had plenty of reason to.
His North Carolina baseball team (39-2, 18-2 ACC) had just capped off a sweep of rival Duke in a 10-1 blowout. Just a day earlier, on Saturday, Moss had kicked off the doubleheader by playing a rousing rendition of the national anthem on keyboard — much to the delight of the 2,027 fans in attendance. And in Saturday’s nightcap, he picked up his seventh win of the season by tossing 6.2 innings of one-run ball.
But the most important reason Moss had for feeling cool Sunday was one number: $19,000.
That’s how much money was raised to fight children’s cancer in UNC and Duke’s Vs. Cancer Foundation event, and it was the reason why both teams were shaving their heads on the field after Sunday’s game.
“I think this is the real big event for this weekend,” said Moss, who helped market and organize the fundraiser.
“Games are important, but you ask our coach even, and he’ll say the big picture in life is always, always the most important one. So I think the sweep is just the icing on the cake. I think this is what takes it.”
Former UNC baseball player and Vs. Cancer founder Chase Jones had even more reason to be excited as he saw the Tar Heels and Blue Devils get their heads shaved in front of a regular season-record Boshamer Stadium crowd of 4,255.
After years of running BaseBald, a similar fundraiser, this was Jones’ inaugural Vs. Cancer event, and it was a resounding success.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Jones said. “I mean, the $19,000 raised, but then watching these two teams come together — as much as we’re rivals on the basketball court, on the football field, on the baseball diamond — seeing this shows that we’re doing something right, and we’re saving kids’ lives.”
The Duke-UNC rivalry extended well beyond the ballpark this weekend. Ace starter Kent Emanuel said the teams even competed for how much money they could raise.
“Now, we’re spanking them in that category,” Emanuel said, laughing.
And that’s not the only category UNC excelled in.
The Tar Heels held Duke (22-20, 8-13) to just three runs throughout the entire series, as Emanuel, Moss and Sunday starter Hobbs Johnson each pitched gems, and Brian Holberton and the middle of the UNC batting order provided plenty of offensive punch.
But no one was talking about baseball after the game — Moss certainly wasn’t.
His head had already been shaved, but he was willing to go even further if it meant raising more money for a good cause.
“If anybody’s willing to pony up $1,000 per eyebrow,” Moss said, “I’ll do it — if that’ll get us up to $20,000.”
He probably wasn’t joking, either.
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