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Stars come out from A to Zito

Mary Ann Cruz , Tri-Valley Herald

POP went the flash bulbs Jan. 11 as animal lovers swept into the after-party for the 12th annual Stars to the Rescue.

The event was hosted by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose brainchild, Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), was launched after he rescued and found a home for a stray cat that had wandered onto the playing field during an Oakland A's game in 1990.

Since then, ARF's major fund-raiser has gained a reputation as one of the most popular celebrity events of the calendar. This year it was sold out to a crowd of 800 at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, and it was more electrifying than ever.

Bringing up the wattage were standup routines by Peter Marshall and Williams & Ree and performances by the Robert Cray Band, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Paige Price. The capper, though, was a special guest appearance by Barry Zito, winner of the 2002 American League Cy Young award. Zito jammed with Chicago, celebrating 35 years as one of the best-loved bands in rock history.

When the applause subsided -- and ARF had hit another record in revenues to benefit the care and shelter of homeless animals in the Bay Area -- the accolades were fast and furious.

"Loved the show!" exclaimed Brent Martin of San Francisco. "There was something for everyone -- each generation and every kind of taste."

"Each year it keeps getting better and better," said Michele Bilafer of Redwood City.

"Once again, they scored a home run," said Joyce Capece of Walnut Creek.

"I especially loved Peter Marshall's film clips highlighting the outtakes on 'Hollywood Squares,'" said Marie LoPresto of Saratoga, who brought along seven close friends, including Ellen Prandi. "We've known Tony for years, and his passion for living is so evident through his work with ARF. He was true to his word when he said this lineup was going to the flashiest one yet."

"And who doesn't just love Chicago?" asked Lora Watts, vice-president of SBC.

"I'm a sports fan, and there are so many of my favorites here," said Connie Sorenson of Blackhawk as she stood on her tiptoes and scanned the deck, engaging in the spectator sport that everyone was game for.

Among the luminaries in attendance were ESPN sportscaster Joe Morgan of the Baseball Hall of Fame, former 49ers tight end Brent Jones, Olympic gold medalist Dan O'Brien, Chicago Cubs pitcher Shawn Estes and Fox sportscaster and former Giants second baseman Duane Kuiper. In fact, there were so many stars that one enigmatic gentleman was signing autographs with a signature that was illegible, to say the least -- and even as the revelry continued on till reveille, his identity remained a mystery.

But we'll save it anyway. Who knows? Someday it may be worth money.

Contact Mary Ann Cruz at (925) 736-1423 or
send her an e-mail at
(Published January 18, 2003, Tri-Valley Herald)


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