In 2011, while preparing to pitch in a baseball game at Collinsville High School, Tanner Houck was surprised to see his mom arrive at the game pushing a stroller. As he walked over to say hello, he couldn’t help but ask, “Who’s the little girl?” “That’s your sister, Reanna,” his mom responded enthusiastically. At that moment, Tanner’s life changed forever. Not only would Tanner continue his path toward becoming a Major League pitcher, but now he carried a new passion in his heart to impact the foster and adoption community by raising funds, creating awareness and spending time with kids.
While Tanner’s father and stepfather were adopted, he was unfamiliar with the adoption process. By his own accounts, his sister, Reanna, made him see how privileged he is to have a family and the ability to know he had food on the table, a warm bed and all the small things that are often taken for granted.
The Red Sox first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2017 MLB Draft, Houck dove into community service as soon as he entered professional baseball. In 2018, he created “Pitch for Adoption,” a campaign aimed at raising money for nonprofit organizations, including Caritas Family Solutions and St. John Bosco Children’s Center, where children between the ages of 6-18 who have experienced a life of abuse and/or neglect can live in a loving, caring, structured and therapeutic home so that they can eventually obtain permanency in a forever home.
Upon his call up to the big leagues in 2020, Tanner made an impact in the Boston community immediately by connecting with The Home for Little Wanderers, the oldest U.S. child welfare agency in the country with more than 25 community-based programs that help children of all ages at all stages of life. Since then, his relationship with The Home only grew, and in 2023, they marked an official partnership with a visit to Harrington House, one of The Home’s six group homes providing supportive living environments and services to youth who have experienced childhood trauma. Also, as part of the collaboration, each month, he welcomes children and staff to Fenway Park to watch batting practice from the field, meet Tanner and his teammates, and take in a Red Sox game.
Before the 2023 regular season, Tanner attended an event in Fort Myers, Florida, to support One More Child, a group whose mission is to provide Christ-centered services to vulnerable children and struggling families by working with single moms, feeding hungry children, helping struggling families, providing anti-human trafficking services and counseling, and licensing and supporting foster families. During that event, he and his wife, Abby, along with teammate Garrett Whitlock, had the opportunity to meet and interact with foster children and their caretakers, as well as get to learn more about the programs and the need, both domestically and globally.
Tanner’s great work is not limited to supporting adoption and awareness. He is the go-to guy for any community requests and always willing to lend a hand. This season he has assumed a leadership role, encouraging teammates and the Red Sox coaching staff to join him on his visits to expose them to the mutually beneficial results of making a difference in the lives of others.