UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – When baseball teams think of promotional events to get people in the gates, oftentimes it’s so they can make a dollar. The Utica Blue Sox are going against the grain this Friday night and helping to promote inclusivity, partnering with the Kelberman Center in Utica for a special “Autism Acceptance Night,” with proceeds made from their specialty jersey auction going back to the organization.

The Kelberman Center is the leading provider of Autism services for children, adults, and families in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York, providing comprehensive programming and life services for people throughout all stages of life.

This is the second year of a partnership between the Blue Sox and The Kelberman Center, last year the team held a sponsored night at the ballpark, but this year’s jersey auction adds another twist, with all the money raised via the sale going directly to the Center.

Both the Blue Sox and The Kelberman Center stressed that the night is not meant for Autism “awareness” like many organizations make events related to the diagnosis, but instead for Autism acceptance. “Part of our mission here at The Kelberman Center is to look at inclusiveness, inclusivity, and make sure that individuals feel included,” says Executive Director of The Kelberman Center, Tara Costello, “And in order to do that we need to have people accept and understand what the diagnosis is, and how when you meet somebody with Autism, you meet somebody with Autism, not every person is the same… this is a great way to demonstrate that showcase the uniqueness of the individuals that we serve.”

The organizations are both expecting one of the most well-attended games of the year, with The Kelberman Center giving out between 800 and 900 tickets on top of the attendance that the Blue Sox usually gets at games, anywhere between 400 and 600.

Every jersey worn Friday, including the coaches, is up for auction right now at uticabluesox.net, bidding starting at $50 for each, with the highest bid at the time of publication at $500. The grand auction total is already over $4700, and the opportunity for an increase in that number is present with bidding taking place online up until the start of the game and in person after the conclusion. The players will also be around signing their respective sold uniforms postgame.

The Blue Sox enter the game Friday having won nine games in a row, taking down the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs Thursday, 9-6, to extend that streak. Local stars Dewey Roden and Ryan Enos have been leading the squad in the batter’s box, Roden with a .425 batting average good for 5th in the entire PGCBL and first on the team, and Enos holding a .392 average, good for 11th in the league and 2nd on the team behind Roden, 8 doubles, which leads the PGCBL, and 14 RBI, which places him 5th in the league in that stat column.

The first pitch against the Elmira Pioneers is at 6:45 at Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field and tickets can be bought at the gate or online.