A league-wide initiative by all 30 MLB Clubs and over 50 Major League players has raised nearly $1 million, providing over 4 million meals to support childhood hunger prevention in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 20 million students in the United States and Canada rely on school-provided free or reduced-price meals. With schools shut down, players personally reached out to each other to collect donations as part of the Home Plate Project, a partnership between Major League Baseball, Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation and Big League Impact, which was founded by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, and is currently led by Wainwright and Texas Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson.
Though the initiative was originally scheduled to launch its second year in the fall, Brooks, Wainwright and Gibson realized the urgency and need for children who are unable to attend school in the face of the pandemic. They quickly assembled their charity teams and personally called and sent messages to as many of their fellow players as they could, with many of those players reaching out to their friends around the league. With the help of Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation and on short notice, the network of players and partners was able to raise $937,100 for the effort.
List of Player Ambassadors for Each MLB Club:
ARI: Luke Weaver
ATL: Mark Melancon
BAL: Chris Davis
BOS: Nate Eovaldi, Mitch Moreland
CHC: Daniel Descalso, Steven Souza Jr.
CWS: Steve Cishek
CIN: Sonny Gray, Michael Lorenzen
CLE: Brad Hand, Shane Bieber, Nick Wittgren, Jake Bauers
COL: Daniel Murphy, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story
DET: Matthew Boyd, Ron Gardenhire
HOU: Justin Verlander
KC: Ian Kennedy, Trevor Rosenthal
LAA: Albert Pujols, Jason Castro
LAD: Clayton Kershaw
MIA: Corey Dickerson, Sean Rodriguez
MIL: Brent Suter
MIN: Marwin Gonzalez
NYM: Steven Matz, Michael Wacha
NYY: DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner
OAK: Stephen Piscotty
PHI: Aaron Nola, Neil Walker
PIT: Trevor Williams
SD: Brian Dozier, Tommy Pham
SEA: Marco Gonzales
SF: Hunter Pence
STL: Paul Goldschmidt, Adam Wainwright
TB: Charlie Morton, Joey Wendle
TEX: Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn, Elvis Andrus, Robinson Chirinos
TOR: Chase Anderson, Randal Grichuk
WSH: Yan Gomes
Garth Brooks said: “We at Teammates are honored to be partnering with Adam and Kyle and the heroes of MLB for another year and another Home Plate Project. Last year’s impact was so great, and this year’s will be even better. I’m really proud of the players who are participating in this project, now when it’s needed most. It’s a joy and a privilege to be part of the healing.”
Adam Wainwright said: “Coming together with Garth and his foundation last year for our Home Plate Project was incredibly powerful. We were excited to partner again later this year, but the pandemic the world faces during this time has called for us to act now. Big leaguers from every MLB team felt compelled to jump in with us so we can help feed kids right now when they need it most in their cities. We are grateful for the opportunity to help fill their needs in this most crucial time with this great project. Thanks goes out to everyone who made this come together so quickly so we could have an immediate impact – especially to all the players… this isn’t possible without you. We may be competitors on the field, but we are all one big family off of it.”
Kyle Gibson said: “At Big League Impact, we are always trying to find ways to help players raise money and have an impact in their home cities. Last year when we launched the Home Plate Project with Teammates for Kids and MLB, we knew it was going to be a program that would help kids all across the country who are constantly living with food insecurity. This was something we’ve been looking forward to doing again in August, but with COVID-19 causing the cancellation of schools all across the country, that has limited some kids’ access to free meals that they rely on to survive, and doing it now was an easy decision to make. To be able to step in and help fill that void is an absolute privilege! We knew when we decided to launch this program four months early, it was going to present some challenges that we didn’t face last year. Players all across the league have stepped up to help us overcome them, and they are the reason we have been able to grow this program larger than last year – and at a time when kids need it most. Big League Impact cannot accomplish what we do without the MLB players who jump on board and
choose to do good in their communities. To the players around the league making this program successful in a time of dire need, our staff at Big League Impact says thank you!”
Melanie LeGrande, Vice President of Social Responsibility, Major League Baseball, said: “Major League Baseball commends our partners in the Home Plate Project, including the dozens of Players, who are generously supporting the most vulnerable members of our society. Childhood hunger is an often overlooked issue, and it is incredibly gratifying to see our baseball community once again rising to the occasion during this pandemic.”
Teammates for Kids (www.teammatesforkids.com) began with the support of 67 Major League Baseball players who made a pledge to help kids. Since then, more than 5,000 professional athletes from baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, rodeo and racing have joined the TFK team. Since its inception in 1999, the Teammates for Kids Foundation and its network of thousands of professional athletes has distributed funds to charities focusing on children’s health, education, and inner-city outreach, through building Child Life Zones, supporting youth athletic programs, and funding life-saving surgeries.
Big League Impact (www.BigLeagueImpact.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help meet basic human needs like food, clean water, medical care and shelter, in an effort to restore dignity and hope to people in the US and around the globe. Founded by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright in 2013, Big League Impact works with 80 MLB players, and has raised more than $4 million for the projects and causes that allow BLI to fulfill its mission.