Baseball fans have long been able to expect several certainties as January ice gives way to hope sprung anew by the start of a new season.
The freshly cut grass of manicured Spring Training facilities. Countless "best shape of my life" quotes. And kindness from one of baseball's good guys, Dee Strange-Gordon.
The two-time All-Star partnered with MLB, Pitch In For Baseball & Softball and Wilson Sporting Goods to host a special "drive-thru" equipment giveaway event Saturday at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla. Children from throughout the Treasure Coast area had a chance to meet Gordon, go through a safety-focused clinic and receive a variety of youth baseball equipment, including a bat backpack, batting helmet, baseball, as well as a face covering and a Franklin Sports "PLAY BALL" plastic bat & ball set. Masks and social distancing guidelines were strictly enforced throughout the event.
"We've been thinking and planning [for this event] for months. Lots of Zoom calls with Pitch in For Baseball, Wilson and my agent," Gordon told Hot Stove's Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian on MLB Network on Friday.
One special group that participated were children from "SafeSpace," a United Way agency that provides victims of domestic violence with shelter, safety, support and education across the Treasure Coast of Florida. Multiple times a nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award -- which recognizes commitment to community -- Gordon has previously supported nonprofits devoted to addressing domestic violence.
The socially distanced occasion is similar to a "PLAY BALL" community event series that MLB continues to co-host with various groups, including with current MLB players, Black churches, and other community organizations throughout the country, providing families and children with bat and ball sets that they can safely enjoy at home, parks and neighborhoods.
Events like Saturday's are not new for Gordon, who has long prioritized giving back to the community. One such event took place during the beginning of the pandemic, when Gordon helped a struggling business in his hometown as well as local community members by buying those in need delicious barbecue food.
"Just trying to make sure people eat and support Black business owners from around town," Gordon said.