Even though this year’s Sowing Seeds for Life Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity on Oct. 7 at Glendora Country Club has another great lineup, it is going to be difficult to top the 2012 Sowing Seeds for Life Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity, which included broadcaster Bob Miller going topless in order to raise $3,000.
In 2010, the celebrity list included Jerry West, James Worthy, Elgin Baylor, and Bill Sharman — four of the 50 greatest players in NBA history — plus former UCLA basketball coach Jim Harrick, former Dodgers Bill Russell, Tommy Davis, and Al Downing, UCLA football announcers Chris Roberts and Matt Stevens, and former NFL wide receiver and current Dodger Chief Revenue Officer Michael Young.
In 2011, the celebrity panel included horse racing announcer Trevor Denman, former Laker assistant coach Frank Hamblen, former North Carolina and Laker star George Lynch and Dwyre.
Then came last year’s tournament, highlighted by Bob Miller and Roy Firestone.
You’ve heard the phrase, “He’d give you the shirt off his back.” That’s Miller, the Hall of Fame television announcer for the 2011-12 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, did at last year’s tournament at the Glendora Country Club.
Miller, who doesn’t play golf, donated an entire day and night to the fourth annual Sowing Seeds for Life Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity. He drove from his home in West Hills near Woodland Hills to Glendora in the morning to sign autographs and pose for pictures for more than an hour before play began.
Then he and Vicki Brown, the CEO and founder of Sowing Seeds for Life, greeted golfers out on the Glendora CC course.
But the most amazing thing, the topper of all toppers, was what he did during the live auction following the dinner portion of the event.
During a slight break in the fast-paced auction, Don Dirian of San Dimas walked up to Miller and said he would make a $3,000 donation if Miller would give him the Stanley Cup shirt he was wearing. Dirian, who is approximately Miller’s size, suggested, “Let’s trade shirts.”
Miller, not quite believing what he was hearing, asked: “You’ll donate $3,000 if I agree to trade shirts?”
Dirian said yes, and Miller, in front of a crowd of some 150 people, was suddenly shirtless. Wayne Gretzky was known as “The Great One.” Maybe Miller will now be known as “The Shirtless One,” or, simply, “Shirtless” Bob.
Miller put on Dirian’s shirt, and it fit nicely.
Everyone at the dinner roared with laughter. But the laughs were far from over.
Following the auction, there was a sensational-hour performance by Firestone, the award-winning sportscaster and world-renowned entertainer.
Firestone, as he has done at some 2,000 corporate events worldwide over the years, sang, told jokes, did impersonations, showed sports bloopers and told a few heartwarming stories.
There were plenty of laughs, plus a few poignant moments. One involved Firestone talking about his first significant interview back in 1975, when he was working in local television in South Florida. That was two years before coming to Los Angeles to go to work for KCBS Channel 2.
The interview was with Muhammad Ali and it took place at a nursing home.
“In one room all by himself was a 98-year-old man in a wheelchair,” Firestone said. “He just stared out the window and hadn’t talked to anyone for weeks.
“Ali went over to him and asked, ‘Do you know who I am?’ No answer. He repeated the question several times, still no answer. But when Ali started to walk away, the man turned toward him and said, ‘I know who you are. You’re the champ. You’re the greatest fighter who ever lived. I’ve dreamed my whole life that someday I would meet the great Joe Louis, and now I have.’
“There were several handlers with Ali and they started to go over to correct the man. But Ali stopped them. He told them, ‘You don’t take a man’s dignity away from him. He thinks he just met Joe Louis. Let him enjoy it.’ ”
Besides Miller and Firestone, other celebrities at the tournament in 2012 included Harrick and Roberts, making return visits. Harrick coached UCLA to its 11th national basketball championship in 1995, and Roberts, now in his 21st years of announcer UCLA football and basketball, is a Glendora resident who has become a spokesman for SSFL. Another celebrity at the 2012 tournament was former Monrovia High, USC and Buffalo Bills football cornerback Chris Hale, who played in one Rose Bowl and four Super Bowls.
Miller’s quick-change act ended up getting publicized in Tom Hoffarth’s column that appears in the sports sections of the nine newspapers that make up the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, including the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the Inland Empire Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and the Los Angeles Daily News.
One thing Hoffarth touched on was how Miller, after arriving home that evening, had to explain to his wife Judy why he wasn’t wearing the same shirt he had on in the morning. Judy patiently listened to Miller’s tale, then retorted, “Well, are those your pants?” He told her, “Yes, these are my pants. I do have my standards.”