HOUSTON -- Growing up with a stutter, Astros outfielder George Springer thought he was alone. His friends had no trouble forming words like he did, so he thought he must have been different. His parents, however, told him he wasn't any better or worse than anyone else and helped give
HOUSTON -- Growing up with a stutter, Astros outfielder George Springer thought he was alone. His friends had no trouble forming words like he did, so he thought he must have been different. His parents, however, told him he wasn't any better or worse than anyone else and helped give him the confidence to not let a speech impediment slow him down.
Springer took those words to heart and has blossomed into a star for the Astros, but he hasn't lost the stutter or forgotten what it's like to be a kid who does. That's why he had dozens of kids, most of whom have stuttered all their lives, join him on Sunday night at a Lucky Strike in downtown Houston for his third annual All-Star Bowling Benefit.
Proceeds from the event support Camp SAY, a life-changing summer camp for young people who stutter. Springer is the SAY organization's national spokesman.
"I understand the position I'm in and if I can help anybody -- a kid, an adult, whoever it is -- that's my job, and it's special to me and I'm glad there's support for it," Springer said. "It's a special day."
Astros teammates Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Jake Marisnick, Mike Fiers, Alex Bregman, James Hoyt, Dayan Diaz and Francis Martes, along with Astros manager A.J. Hinch, were among those there to support the cause on a star-studded evening.
"It's awesome," Hinch said. "It shows the impact George has on our team. The event is getting bigger and bigger, and rightfully so. He's doing a great job of bringing awareness of something that's close to his heart."
Springer addressed the kids and told them not to let something they can't control slow them down. Springer's father, George Springer Jr., said he and his wife, Laura, felt isolated while raising a child with a stutter and are grateful their son is able to help so many.
"Everything we've learned and we've experienced, we can now bring to SAY as an organization, so we're glad to be here," George Jr. said.
Camp SAY is a summer camp that provides a welcoming environment for a young person who stutters, to help him or her develop the skills needed to communicate more effectively, build self-confidence and forge friendships to last a lifetime.
The sleep-away camp welcomes children and teens who stutter, ages 8 to 18, and their young family members and friends who want to share an incredible camp experience together. Young people from across the country, and beyond, attend Camp SAY year after year.
"George lives his life by example," said Taro Alexander, founder and president of SAY. "He's a leader on and off the field, and that inspires people. … He's so clearly comfortable with who he is. … He's just himself, and that inspires the 5-year-old. I love the way he puts himself out here, doesn't apologize for anything. There's nothing to apologize for, and yet he's charming and funny and amazing. He's an incredible human being, and we're honored to have him."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for M/LB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.