BALTIMORE -- The children made their way to home plate at Oriole Park at Camden Yards late Monday afternoon, some wearing smiles of joy, others with looks of trepidation. However, each came with a common goal: To participate in a T-ball challenge where they had a chance to belt a
BALTIMORE -- The children made their way to home plate at Oriole Park at Camden Yards late Monday afternoon, some wearing smiles of joy, others with looks of trepidation. However, each came with a common goal: To participate in a T-ball challenge where they had a chance to belt a ball off a tee.
These little ones got some help from a few friends. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and his wife, Jill, steadied them, gave advice and helped them get ready to take their cuts. Most were -- or had some connection to -- patients from the Pediatric Heart Program of the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH) at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
This was all part of the second annual "Crush's Homers for Hearts," a fundraiser hosted by Chris and Jill Davis that benefits the Pediatric Heart Program. There was also a reception, but the Home Run Derby challenge needed to be postponed due to weather issues. The Orioles said that will be rescheduled at a later date.
This event raised almost $100,000 last year; in addition, Davis donated $1,000 for each homer he hit last season, which brought in another $26,000. He is doing that pledge once more this season, and both Davis and his wife are thrilled to help, especially since they had twins in the offseason.
"Last year, it was really special for us but this year, it's even more special because this offseason, when we had our twins, we kind of got a little glimpse into what these parents and families go through," Jill Davis said. "It really hits close to home. We're just really committed to doing whatever we can to help these families."
Chris Davis clearly enjoyed helping the little kids out on the field. He worked at setting the children up in the batter's box, adjusting their swings and giving some baseball advice.
The Orioles first baseman said he's glad to be able to help the people at the hospital because what they do means so much to so many.
"It definitely changes your perspective once you have your own kids -- you kind of see what that entails, and how delicate they are, but really, how resilient they are," Davis said. "I think we both have a heart for not only the kids and the parents … there's a lot of amazing people [who work at the hospital] and they're doing some great things."
There were a few doctors from the hospital at the event, and all said how happy they were that Chris and Jill Davis got together with them to start this event.
Steve Czinn, Geoff Rosenthal and Sunjay Kaushal were the doctors present on Monday, all wearing Orioles jerseys and proud of what was taking place.
"To have somebody like Chris Davis and Jill Davis come to us and help us put a program like this on, it just speaks volumes for what we're doing," Czinn said. "The PR, the visibility -- it's priceless."
Kaushal said he also loved watching one of his patients on the field hitting during the T-ball challenge. When asked how the child's swing looked, the doctor simply grinned.
"Ah, perfect," he said.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore.