Miguel Cabrera is ready to go whenever baseball resumes. He has been working out at his home in Miami, so his preparation doesn't worry him.
"When they give me a call, I'll be ready," he said.
What worries him and his wife, Rosangel, is the situation in Detroit as the coronavirus pandemic impacts all facets of life, especially children. So before Miggy steps up to the plate again in a game, the Cabreras are stepping up to donate $250,000 to benefit several key Detroit organizations that serve children.
The donation arose out of a discussion the Cabreras had on what they could do and how best to help, as former teammate Justin Verlander and his wife, Kate Upton, teamed with Bella+Canvas last month to send 25,000 protective masks to the Detroit Police Department.
"We always feel like Detroit is a part of our family," Cabrera said. "When a city has done so much for me and my family, when we have a chance to give back to the community, especially during this hard event, we try to do that. It's not just about playing baseball and making money. It's about being part of the community."
Miguel and Rosangel have played an active role in supporting youth causes over the past several years, helping renovate baseball fields in Detroit while providing assistance to the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL), and establishing a permanent college scholarship endowment for students in southeast Michigan. With the pandemic creating a wide-ranging crisis in the city, the Cabreras broadened their charitable reach, and partnered with the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, to identify the greatest needs in Detroit.
"We are in unprecedented times, and the needs are plenty in the city of Detroit. On behalf of Detroit PAL and our partners, I want to thank Rosangel and Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers Foundation," Detroit PAL CEO Robert Jamerson said. "Many remember plays made on the field, but there is nothing more important in life than investing in children. We are thankful for this donation to help Detroit youth find their greatness."
The Cabrera family will donate $50,000 to the Detroit Public Schools Community District for its meal distribution efforts to help provide healthy meals to kids in need while school is out. The district provides 120,000 meals per week across its 19 "grab and go" sites. It's the second major contribution to the program from the Tigers in as many months. Matthew Boyd, manager Ron Gardenhire and Big League Impact donated $30,000 last month as part of the Home Plate program to battle childhood hunger and food insecurity.
Another $50,000 donation will benefit the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to support its Connected Futures initiative, an effort to provide all 51,000 public schools students with connected tablets, six-month data plans and tech support by summer so they and their families have better access to learning opportunities and for the economy of the future. The district estimates that 90 percent of its K-12 students lack internet access and a connected device, a gap that became more urgent once the pandemic closed schools and forced students to learn from home.
"We appreciate this support for our students across the district from Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers. We have families who are facing severe hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. This example of compassion and thoughtfulness goes a long way, especially from one of our hometown baseball greats," said Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District.
The largest donation, $140,000, will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Michigan, Detroit PAL and Brilliant Detroit. The three organizations will collaborate on a plan to provide affordable childcare for families in Detroit as parents return to work and schools and many camps remain closed. In total, nearly 3,000 children will benefit from this collaborative effort.
"People are going through hard times right now, so if we can put up a little bit and help, it's going to be easier to start up the economy when parents can go back to work," Cabrera said.
As part of the collaboration, Brilliant Detroit will provide one-on-one tutoring, learn-at-home kits and Reading is Fundamental programs to 200 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs and Detroit PAL. It will also include kids in its program to help reduce the summer reading slide.
"This gift will ensure that kids across our City get the services and support they need, delivered by organizations that are built on putting kids at the center of everything," said Cindy Eggleton, Brilliant Detroit co-founder and CEO. "To have a hometown team like the Detroit Tigers – and a superstar like Miguel Cabrera – that truly supports this work is so meaningful and essential. We are tremendously grateful."
The Boys & Girls Club plans to reopen the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus this month for children of essential workers, and increase the number of kids served daily from 200 to 1,000 by the end of June. Detroit PAL will provide summer programming in-house for about 230 children, plus virtual programming for another 1,000 kids.
"This extraordinary gift will help ensure that our Clubs are safe and clean, staff are adequately protected, and youth have meals and enrichment activities as we begin to safely reopen our doors," said Shawn H. Wilson, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. "Our youth need us today more than ever. We thank Rosangel and Miguel Cabrera for their generous donation and for understanding the importance of funding collaborations for greater community impact."
The final $10,000 will benefit G1 Impact's 100,000 Masks for Detroit Families Initiative to manufacture 100,000 reusable, hospital-grade personal face masks for Detroit children and their families. The masks will be cut and sewn by small businesses in Michigan, and will be distributed by Forgotten Harvest, Life Remolded, Brilliant Detroit and The Prayer Truck. The Cabreras' donation will provide 2,000 masks at no charge for residents in the Durfee neighborhood around Detroit's Central High School.
"We are very grateful that Miguel and Rosangel recognized the need to provide high-quality masks to protect socially disadvantaged families," said Nicole Farmer, Community Engagement Director for G1 Impact. "This gift will help keep children and families in Detroit healthy, and help save jobs that pay a living wage and support our local economy."
The Cabreras have also worked to provide help to their native Venezuela through their foundation.
"It's something they need right now. It's what we need right now," he said. "It's hitting hard around the world, hitting hard in Detroit. Even in Venezuela, a lot of people need help. If we have some way to help, we're always open to do that. Thank God we can do that in Detroit. Thank God we can do that in Venezuela."
The donations continue the active involvement of the Tigers and their players since the pandemic forced the suspension of the season. Tigers chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch paid Spring Training seasonal employees in Lakeland, Fla., for games lost, and pledged $1 million to cover Comerica Park's part-time staff for games lost in April. The front office, meanwhile, has continued to pay full-time staff at full salary.
Cabrera, meanwhile, continues to work out in hopes of keeping his Spring Training form for a potential restart. It's the first time he has been at home in Florida at this time of year since his days as a Florida Marlin. But in many ways, it feels like the offseason.
"I have a gym at my house, so I've been working out every day," Cabrera said. "I hit almost every day. I don't worry about that kind of stuff. There's too much stuff going on to worry about that. I've been keeping myself in shape.
"When it's the time, I'm going to be ready. I don't try to overthink it like, 'Oh my God, why is this happening right now?' I try to move forward."
If that move forward includes playing games without fans in attendance for a while, Cabrera said, it won't be the same, but that he knows the fans are with them. But it would at least be a step closer to where they want to get, and potentially make baseball a microcosm for a larger society.
"We have to hope we can move forward and try to live our lives," Cabrera said. "I hope we can make this right. I hope we can be an example."