'Blessed' catcher active with children charities, military initiatives
MILWAUKEE -- For his work off the field, mostly in support of children's charities and military initiatives, catcher Jonathan Lucroy is the Brewers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Tuesday is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, a day instituted in 2002 on the 30th anniversary of his passing to keep alive Clemente's spirit of giving. Voting runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 6 at chevybaseball.com as fans help decide which of those 30 club winners will receive this prestigious recognition. The nominees were chosen based on their dedication to giving back to the community, as well as their outstanding ability on the field.
"It's been a tough season, so I always want to do something positive as best I can," Lucroy said. "I want to represent the organization in the community because I think we're really blessed to play this game for a living."
That is more important than ever, Lucroy said, considering the Brewers' tough season on and off the field. He has emerged as the team's most vocal spokesperson in the wake of Ryan Braun's season-ending suspension, urging fans in a handful of public statements and appearances to continue to support the club.
"People get a bad taste in their mouth after all that stuff," he said, "so I wanted to say, 'Hey, we're still out here battling and fighting, still trying to do good things. We're not giving up, so don't give up on us.'"
Behind the scenes, Lucroy has focused much of his support to military initiatives in honor of his college roommate, John Coker, who was wounded by gunfire while serving with the Army National Guard in Afghanistan. Lucroy has provided financial support for Fisher House Wisconsin, a facility for military veterans and their families receiving treatment at the Milwaukee VA Hospital, and invites wounded veterans to games once a month and meets with them. He also provided support and recorded a public service announcement for a city-wide initiative to hire veterans, and for the past three years, Lucroy has provided $5,000 scholarships to military families.
He is also active with Make-A-Wish, granting wishes and visiting hospitals, and served as a spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Team Muscle Walk and Brewers Community Foundation's Drive for Charity. His contributions to BCF have supported the Miracle League of Milwaukee, which allows children with physical challenges to play organized baseball, regardless of ability.
"We're blessed to play this game, and any chance we get to help others is important to me and my family," Lucroy said.