Shane McClanahan made his big league debut in 2020 and has already made an impact as a role model in the clubhouse among teammates and the community. The starting pitcher feels at home on the baseball diamond and works to share that feeling of belonging and camaraderie outside his job, too.
Shane attended the University of South Florida, where he was first introduced to fans Dennis Mueller and his son Zach -- aka “Big Dog.” They were his biggest supporters and eventually grew to become close friends. Dennis is a board member of Buddy Baseball, and Shane decided to get involved through their relationship. Since then, he has volunteered time and financial support to the organization.
Buddy Baseball is a non-competitive recreational baseball league serving the Tampa Bay community for boys and girls ages 8-22 with unique abilities. Each player is paired with a “buddy” to assist on the field and dugout. The league fosters friendships and breaks down barriers, allowing each child to play an organized sport. The athletes get the thrill of participating in a baseball game and have the chance to experience teamwork, collaboration and camaraderie.
Shane grew up watching his mother, a special education teacher, go to work every day to take care of children with unique abilities. His mother’s love for her work and her students was infectious. Paired with his friendship with Dennis and Zach, Shane felt compelled to share his passion for baseball with young athletes with unique abilities in the Tampa Bay area.
Shane continues to visit Buddy Baseball’s fields and pitch to the kids during games. He has also worked with Rays’ corporate partner Kahwa Coffee to direct a portion of proceeds to benefit the Buddy Baseball organization. In 2022, he donated $2,500, matched by the MLBPA, toward their fundraising for an accessible picnic shelter between their fields.
With Shane’s enthusiastic participation, Tropicana Field has hosted the Rays Baseball Magic Clinic, with Major League players and coaches leading youth players in drills and mini games between the teams of Buddy Baseball. Inspired by Shane’s involvement, every Monday homestand for the Rays is now “Magic Monday,” a day when athletes from Buddy Baseball are invited to take the field with the Major Leaguers for batting practice and the singing of the National Anthem. Each child leaves with a baseball and an unforgettable memory to carry with them.
Shane has not been a part of the Major Leagues for long, but his dedication to Buddy Baseball has left a lasting impact on the Rays organization and the broader Tampa Bay area.