Chris Cotillo typically would be getting back into the routine of another year covering the Boston Red Sox, but this is no normal year.
He’s managing to keep himself just as busy as he typically would before Major League Baseball suspended its season. Though these days, the MassLive beat writer is using his Twitter account as that of an auctioneer as opposed to its normal function as an MLB insider.
For the last three days, Cotillo’s worked full-time, auctioning off a binder of his old autographed baseball cards to raise money for COVID-19 causes. And a pair of former Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s sneakers. And one of Ken Rosenthal’s signature bowties.
Now, the Red Sox are making a contribution to the auction, Cotillo told NESN on Wednesday. The item for sale will be announced Thursday, but he said the fundraiser should bring in $13,000 before then.
“It’s been really cool to see the baseball community rally around,” Cotillo said in a phone interview.
He got the inspiration after being the target of jokes from colleagues, challenging him to recreate a video for the charity of his choice on Easter Sunday. He knew he could use his platform of over 42,000 Twitter followers to do more.
There, in his childhood bedroom, his eyes gazed upon his 10-year-old autographed collection.
?One concern was people would accuse me of getting autographs on the job,” Cotillo said. “This is all from middle school and maybe elementary school.
“I figured I don?t need any of the stuff, it?s been sitting in a binder for 10 years.”
There are a lot of people in need right now and I?ve been thinking of ways to use this platform to help out. Here?s what I?ve got. pic.twitter.com/JMwT2reucN
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) April 12, 2020
He had the auction going within 15 minutes. In 24 hours, he’d raised more than $2,000.
The fundraiser really gained traction when Cora got involved by offering $100 for a Jason Varitek autograph. Cotillo asked him to sweeten the pot, and the former manager offered up a pair of game-worn cleats, pledging to match any bid for them.
That works? (The shoes, not the painting) Let?s do it tomorrow. 11:50pm doesn?t help us. https://t.co/0Rh8TxDBE9 pic.twitter.com/X0DyZRobBs
— Alex (@ac13alex) April 13, 2020
Enter Jared Carrabis of Barstool Sports. With the exposure the effort got after Cora and Carrabis became involved, the auction took off.
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A collector in Pennsylvania engaged in a bidding war with Carrabis, eventually dishing out $550 each to split the pair of shoes. The former World Series champion manager matched that.
There's now talk of a 3-way deal.@ryanraplee pays $550, gets 1 signed Cora shoe and goes to a game with @Jared_Carrabis.
Jared matches at $550, gets 1 signed Cora shoe.@ac13alex matches at $550
Anyone trying to beat out $550? https://t.co/ueRH206cZA
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) April 13, 2020
Carrabis, the co-host of the “Section 10” Red Sox podcast, has additionally contributed the experience of attending a Red Sox game with the rest of the popular show for fans to bid on.
“We saw what Chris Cotillo was doing to raise money through autographed items and we knew our autographs would be worth less than the surface they would?ve been on, so we thought we could help out by auctioning off an experience instead,” Carrabis told NESN. “We know how passionate the Section 10 listeners are and we?ve done auctions before to raise money for charity where we?d take Section 10 fans to games, so we figured this would be another opportunity to do the same during the pandemic to help out people in need. We?re fortunate enough that our listeners care so much about charitable causes because it allows us to use our platform for good.”
Rosenthal too caught wind of the auction, and Tuesday, gave Cotillo a shoutout on Twitter for his good work. Oddly enough, Cotillo recalled he had one of his autographs too and got Rosenthal involved.
Thanks, Ken. I don?t want to make you feel old but I also got your autograph when I was in middle school. Should we put it up for bids? https://t.co/rJx7EbTmcV pic.twitter.com/8xHXhQszPH
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) April 15, 2020
“With the Ken Rosenthal card, I now know him and consider him a colleague. I never would have thought to put that one up but it turned into 300 bucks just based on social media,” Cotillo said.
“And (Rosenthal’s) signed bowtie which I didn’t know there was a market for.”
Let?s add this signed bow tie with the goal of driving the bidding higher! Follow Chris? rules. Selected charity: Center for Disaster Philanthropy?s COVID-19 Response Fund. https://t.co/8v6mWy4quT pic.twitter.com/Uoz3TiWHjB
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 15, 2020
A David Ortiz autographed card sold for $350.34. An anonymous donation pushed the total close to $10,000. The money raised will benefit the Red Sox Foundation and various food banks across the state and keep Cotillo plenty busy in addition to his sportswriting.
He has well-over 80 packages to send out, but no plans to stop anytime soon.
“I really have no clue (how long the auction will continue) because I have so much stuff left in here, probably half of my autographed cards left, a bunch of huge pictures,” Cotillo said. “As long as there?s a market for it, all I have to do is work. And people are getting behind it, another thing is people are making very generous donations. People are ready to give despite being in a pandemic. They?re sitting at home hoping they can make a difference. The social media reaction has been incredible.”
You can follow the auction and bid on items yourself by following along on Cotillo’s Twitter, @ChrisCotillo.