When model Kate Upton visits Lakeland to watch boyfriend Justin Verlander pitch for the Detroit Tigers, she’s been known to sneak down to the SPCA to cuddle canines. She and Verlander are combining their passion for dogs and baseball by hosting a Grand Slam Adoption event at Marchant Stadium March 31 just before the Tigers-Yankees game.
Upton and Verlander are scheduled to attend the 11 a.m. event, which includes dog adoptions, limited edition T-shirts, a virtual silent auction and family-friendly activities such as mascots and music.
The pet event is free. Tickets are needed to stay for the 1:05 game — the final outing before the Tigers head to Detroit for the regular season.
Money raised from the festivities goes to SPCA Florida and K9s for Warriors, an organization that provides service canines to post-9/11 war veterans who need them to cope with post-traumatic stress, brain injury or military-related sexual trauma.
The high-profile couple held a similar event in Melbourne March 11 before the Tigers-Nationals game at Space Coast Stadium.
Upton, who grew up in nearby Viera, told reporters, “I have three dogs, and I have a couple horses. I was raised on 5 acres, and I showed horses my whole life. And I love dogs. And I think it’s really important for people to adopt their new pet, instead of going shopping.” She added: “Because millions of dogs die in a shelter every year.”
The celebrity couple’s co-sponsors are the Detroit Tigers and Wins for Warriors, a Verlander-sponsored charity that helps veterans and their families “live a resilient life.”
Photos by David Dickey Jr. / Story by Barry Friedman