HOUSTON -- The inaugural Jose Bautista charity golf tournament is scheduled to take place Thursday at the Eagles Nest Golf Club in Vaughan, Ontario.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Bautista Family Education Fund and Jays Care Foundation, while Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia are among those who will be in attendance.
Bautista created the Bautista Family Education Fund two years ago with the goal of providing assistance to young amateur athletes by giving them access to higher education, but has seen it grow even more in recent months.
"It just got to the point where we felt like we could get more people involved, raise more funds and help more kids," Bautista said of the reasoning behind his latest initiative. "It's something that I wanted to do since I kind of established myself in the big leagues, and it's just that everything is kind of coming together now and it's a proper time to start doing more events. To start with the golf tournament I think is a good idea."
Bautista's path to the Major Leagues was very different from a lot of his fellow athletes from the Dominican Republic. He grew up in a middle-class household and had the luxury of turning down a small signing bonus as an amateur athlete in order to attend Chipola College in Florida, with his parents stressing the importance of receiving an education.
The same can't be said for a lot of youth growing up in the Dominican who have to jump at whatever chance they have at making money and pursuing the dream of professional baseball. One of the goals for Bautista's foundation is to break down some of those barriers and help the athletes not only on the field, but off of it as well.
Bautista knows all too well there are many examples of kids dropping out of school at an early age to play sports, then facing extreme hardships when the dream doesn't go according to plan.
"When they don't play sports, they have to start working at a very early age," Bautista said. "The ones that are fortunate enough to play sports and end up being good at them, most of the time, get pulled out of school to go to one of the boarding houses that host a lot of players and try to groom them into becoming the next professional baseball player.
"The success rate isn't all that great. From the kids that drop out of school, it's less than 3 percent, and the success rate after that 3 percent signs in professional baseball, it's about the same in getting to the big leagues and establishing themselves. A lot of kids do it because they don't have any other options. Sometimes they don't have enough money to even put themselves through the public school system. Attending classes is free, but a lot of the materials and uniforms you have to provide yourself, and some of their parents are so poor they don't even have money for that."
Bautista's education fund initially focused exclusively on youth in the Dominican Republic, but has since grown and recently assisted its first Canadian athlete as well. The mission is to provide support to athletes in a variety of sports played at the university level.
Standard ticket packages for the upcoming event include a cart for four players, all-inclusive food and beverage for the day, in addition to course contests, and access to live and silent auctions. Additional ticket options include the ability to guarantee a celebrity in the foursome.
The day will start with brunch at 11 a.m. ET before an afternoon of golf followed by an awards gala at night. Tickets can be purchased by visiting bautistagolf.eventbrite.com.
"[I'm] just figuring out a way to start to give kids some hope and another option of what they can do, instead of having that goal in mind 100 percent of the time with trying to become a professional athlete," Bautista said.
"It's something I look forward to doing in the future, and I think it's a good way to start by helping those that are close to get their college education and set an example for more kids to follow, and in the future, figure out a way to influence them and help them out early on in their lifetime."