Article

Article category

Believe it — we did it again!

April has started with a bang! It’s been an incredible week, one I call the greatest week in sports. I saw North Carolina win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Monday night with a 71-65 win over Gonzaga in Glendale, Arizona. North Carolina matched what Clemson did — they came back and beat Alabama in the college football playoff championship.

As you’ll recall, LeBron James led Cleveland to win over Golden State in the NBA Finals rematch last year. And two years before that, Kansas City came back to win over New York in the World Series. In each case, the teams returned to grab the title after the heartbreak of losing a championship the previous season.

Locally, the Twins started the season fast by sweeping the Kansas City Royals 7-1-9-1 and 5-3 at Target Field.

Members of the Fitzgerald family at the 2017 CFMF event
(front, l-r): Mercedes Johnson and Jaylen Fitzgerald
(back, l-r): Marcus Fitzgerald, Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., and Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.

Finally, Sergio Garcia grabbed his first major title by beating Justin Rose, the Gold Medal winner, in a dramatic playoff at Augusta to capture his first Masters title. This, after failing over 19 years and 74 major championships.

To cap off the week, the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund (CFMF) Benefit & Celebration drew several hundred people for dinner and fellowship. The sports-themed events, with remarkable and priceless memorabilia and auction items, honored the great memory of my late wife Carol.

The events drew rave reviews, with the highlight being the return of native son Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., a 10-time Pro Bowler and Co-NFL “Walter Payton Man of the Year.” Artist Mike Phillips headlined the event, bringing soulful yet funky grooves to the celebration.

The benefit at the Minneapolis Event Center April 7, raised thousands for organizations in the battle against breast cancer, and in support of HIV prevention and urban education. An after-party at Seven Ultra Lounge followed. The community celebration took place Saturday, April 8, at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Minneapolis.

The 2017 grant winners were: Horizons Youth Program at Sabathani Community Center, Minneapolis North Boys Basketball, New Beginnings Church After School Program, Page Education Foundation, Plano Child Development Center, Summit University Teen Center, Swish Dreams, Xavier University Alumni, HAS Program, Minnesota African American Women, Pillsbury HIV Health Education Program, African American Breast Cancer Alliance, Butterfly 4 Life Support Network and the Pay It Forward Fund.

North Point Heath & Wellness CEO Stella Whitney-West delivered an impassioned message about her late friend Carol and how it has impacted her career path.

The Fitzgerald family is appreciative of family and friends (Faith-Focus-Finish) who came from all corners of the United States to support this remarkable cause. We again thank you.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Greatest week in sports?

It’s arguably the greatest week in sports. The cry of “play ball” is ringing across the United States with the boys of summer. Major League Baseball kicks off, all 30 teams, and in Minnesota the Twins open against the Kansas Royals at Target Field.

Last year, the Twins dropped 103 games, while the Royals have been in two of the last three World Series. The Twins play 162 games — baseball is indeed a marathon not a sprint.

The NCAA Men’s basketball championship game takes place this week as North Carolina 32-7 goes for their 6th National Championship against Gonzaga 37-1.

The Tar Heels lost last year’s title game to Villanova at the buzzer. They will try to do what Kentucky did in 1997-98, win the title after losing it the year before.

It’s also Masters week, the un-official beginning of the golf season. Due to back issues, Tiger Woods will miss the historic 20th anniversary of becoming the first Black man to win a major championship. He won the Masters by a record 12 shots.

Friday, April 7, is the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit (CFMF). The event is one of the biggest local happenings in Minneapolis, in honor of this journalist’s late wife and mother to Larry Fitgerald, Jr. and Marcus Fitzgerald.

Carol was a tireless Minnesota Department of health STD investigator. She had passion for caring and sharing and fighting for people. She died April 10, 2003 of breast cancer. Since that year, through the CFMF and Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund annual events, the Fitzgerald family has raised close to $2 million to benefit organizations locally and nationally that assist in HIV prevention, breast cancer awareness and urban education.

The sports-themed gala features NFL Man of the Year and 10-time Pro Bowl star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. He is the first Minnesota-born athlete to win the Walter Payton award; he will be on-hand to sign autographs. Also, CFMF grants will be awarded to this year’s winning community organizations.

The event features a live and silent auction of incredible sports memorabilia. North Point Health & Wellness CEO Stella Whitney-West, one of .Carol’s best friends, will be the keynote speaker, with Mike Phillips as the headline entertainer.

Phillips has played with Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder, and at the inaugural balls for both President Clinton and President Obama. It’s an incredible sports week highlighted by this annual event.

The 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit Gala takes place Friday, April 7, at the Minneapolis Event Center, 212 SE 2nd St., Minneapolis. All proceeds go to the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit. Call 612-770-4575 for more information.

On Saturday, April 8 from 12 to 3 pm, community members are invited to the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Community Celebration at Martin Luther King Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. For tickets call 612-619-0102.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Four teams desert-bound for Final Four

Over the years I’ve grown very fond of Arizona with so many golf courses and resorts, and between November and March you can get away from the stress that goes with winter and the bad weather. Arizona is the spring home of 15 of Major League Baseball’s training sites in Tempe, Scottsdale, Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix from February to April — MLB baseball from sun up to sun down virtually all over the state.

Arizona is loaded with things to do, and it’s crowded this week, Sunday, March 26 through Wednesday, with the NFL Annual Spring Owners meetings at the historic Biltmore Resort where many presidents and royalty and the elite have stayed over the years when they are in town. The owners are expected to vote on the Oakland Raiders’ proposed move to (Sin City) Las Vegas.

If Oakland were to receive approval of the league, they would be the third NFL team in 12 months to move. Previously, the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles and the Chargers left San Diego for Los Angeles.

The National Hockey League just placed an expansion franchise in Las Vegas. For professional sports, this is the first time. The controversial move appears to open the door for potential issues and problems related to gambling..
This weekend’s NCAA Men’s Final Four is set for Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Four of the best basketball teams in the nation and their fans are making plans for the Final Four.

The NCAA Men’s Final Four features North Carolina, the Tar Heels, in their record 20th Final Four. With just two number-one seeds remaining, North Carolina, with their remarkable history and rich tradition, are clearly the favorite. Close your eyes and just think for a minute if South Carolina, the clear Cinderella of the four teams, found a way to first beat Gonzaga and then North Carolina.

The other number-one seed, Gonzaga (36-1), at the Final Four for the first time, has one of the country’s strongest basketball programs but never a Final Four. They were the country’s last unbeaten team and were ranked number one in the nation for several weeks.

South Carolina, another first-time Final Four team, knocked off Duke early and have remained hot and focused. Oregon (33-5) from the Pac 12 have had a remarkable season. This is the first Final Four for the Ducks since 1939. That was the year the NCAA tournament began, long before the theme of March Madness.

Again, the players play, and as exciting as this is for CBS, TBS, TNT, the sponsors and the NCAA, fans and media alike, the reality is this: Only the coaches get rewarded financially.

Roy Williams of North Carolina gets $5 million a year as Tar Heels coach plus another $200,000 for getting his team to the Final Four and $250,000 if the Tar Heels win. Frank Martin of South Carolina makes $2.5 million per year. He is getting a $100,000 bonus for getting his team to their first Final Four. If he wins the title he gets another $200,000.

In the middle of all the excitement, look at this system of amateurism which the NCAA exploits. This is grossly unfair to the hard-working players, and it’s been this way for far too long.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.