Stephen Piscotty, Rockies' Sam Hilliard connected by work for ALS cure

Stephen Piscotty, Rockies' Sam Hilliard connected by work for ALS cure

A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty’s mother, Gretchen, passed away on May 6, 2018, after a battle with ALS. The Piscotty family, led by Piscotty’s dad, Mike, has made it a mission to raise funds to one day find a cure. 

Piscotty’s and the A's upcoming games against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday will have a special connection, as Rockies outfielder Sam Hilliard also has a parent afflicted with ALS. Hilliard's father, Jim, currently is suffering from the disease.

With Hilliard and Piscotty playing each other, Mike Piscotty's foundation, the ALS Cure Project, will be hosting an online auction featuring A's and Rockies memorabilia, with all proceeds going to the ALS Cure Project. The link for the auction event, which includes A’s and Rockies autographed bats, balls jerseys, bobbleheads, A’s 2021 ticket packages and more, can be found here.

The link will also take you to a GoFundMe page where you can donate as well. 

“Obviously I wish we didn’t have that connection for obvious reasons, but when you are dealt that news, we found it comforting there were others going through it just so you can have someone to talk to and relate to about the struggles and things that are going on,” Piscotty told NBC Sports California on Tuesday.

They won’t be able to embrace one another on the field, of course, but Hilliard is familiar with the Piscotty family and knows their story well. Hilliard attended the Piscotty’s ALS Cure Project golf tournament during spring training that’s put on to raise money toward finding a cure.

“I knew about [Piscotty’s] story before my dad was even diagnosed,” Hilliard told NBC Sports California. “It’s a touching story for sure. I watched a little bit of their story that ESPN did, and it’s definitely sad and they just seemed like great people and I got to meet them at the golf tournament for the first time, but I look forward to getting to know them a little bit more.”

Hilliard set up a website to purchase T-shirts and wristbands in another effort to raise money toward research. 

“There’s not a cure right now, but I would say there definitely is hope,” Hilliard said.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

The story of Piscotty's family is a sad one.

When Gretchen was diagnosed with ALS, Piscotty was with the St. Louis Cardinals. He would be traded to the A’s in December of 2017 in order to be closer to her, who was living in the East Bay. 

It was one of those rare moments that showed this was more than a game of baseball.

The A’s themselves have made an effort to support the cause by dedicating a section of fan cardboard cutouts to be purchased along the first baseline for the ALS Cure Project. The cutouts can be purchased for $149 and come with an autographed photo of Piscotty. 

“My mom was able to go on a drug that was approved out of Japan, but it had been the first new drug in about 20 years and it just feels like with a little more effort and funding, pretty significant strides can be made,” Piscotty said.

Piscotty also added they have already raised a significant amount of money toward the ALS Cure Project with the main goal being “why” and “how” this disease happens. All of the research is based on finding the disease mechanism.

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“After my mom passed, our whole life was shaken up pretty good,” Piscotty said. “Obviously, my dad is incredibly passionate about finding a cure and he’s done a really good job, I don’t think I could have done as good of a job using my platform to bring about some change and some good, some awareness, he seems to have a knack for it. It’s been a good partnership in that regard. 

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart had one of the most intimidating stares in MLB history. When the A's pitcher turned NBC Sports California analyst gave you that look, it was game over. 

Stewart once again brought the heat Monday night on A's Postgame Live after Oakland's 11-1 blowout win over the Seattle Mariners. Everyone loves a good dig at the Houston Astros, and Stewart didn't hold back. 

"He's solid, he is a solid player," Stewart said of A's outfielder Ramon Laureano. "How the A's got this guy is unbelievable. And what it took to get is unbelievable in Houston. Houston, thanks once again, you cheaters."

The Houston Astros selected Laureano in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Just three years later, Houston traded the outfielder to Oakland in November 2017 for pitcher Brandon Bailey. 

Laureano, 26, made his MLB debut the next season and has been an integral player for the A's ever since. He hit .288 with five homers and seven stolen bases in just 48 games in 2017, following it up with another .288 season last year. Laureano also added 24 long balls and swiped 13 bags. The center fielder is hitting .324 with two home runs and nine RBI through 10 games this season. 

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning vs. Mariners not as rare as expected]

Bailey, 25, made his big league debut this season for Houston out of the bullpen.

Laureano has one of the best arms in baseball, can knock the ball over the fence and steal a base for extra credit. This was one of the A's best trades in recent memory, and Stewart will remind the Astros as much as he can.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Khris Davis' first home run of 2020 MLB season thrills A's teammates

Khris Davis' first home run of 2020 MLB season thrills A's teammates

Khris Davis connected for his first home run of the season in the A’s 11-1 thumping of the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

It was a shot to left centerfield, into the A's bullpen filled with teammates. 

As he rounded the bases, the bullpen stood up and cheered for him. Starter Frankie Montas, in the dugout, looked more excited than Davis was.

“He needed that, you know?” Montas told reporters after the game. “Just for him to be able to have that day today -- it was huge for him.”

Davis had a stellar 2018 season hitting 48 homers, the most in the league that year. He followed that with a tough 2019 and even rougher beginning of the 2020 season. 

This was well-needed.

“All the way around, really good at-bats,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He felt good today, and you could tell he looked comfortable in the box today so it’s a good start. We’ll see where we go from here, but obviously we know this guy is one of the bigger bats that we’ve had in this organization.”

Davis also showed discipline at the plate with a nine-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning during an eight-run outburst for the A’s. He ended up walking after fouling off four pitches. That at-bat was what led outfielder Stephen Piscotty to believe something was about to happen. Well that, and the fact that Davis made a prediction before the game.

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning on two outs, not a rare feat]

“He looked great today,” Piscotty said. “It was funny -- in BP, he said he was going to go off, and he sure did.”

“We’ve been seeing it,” Piscotty said. “He’s been working really hard and putting the time in and it was nice to see it pay off.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]