DETROIT -- Under normal circumstances, the Tigers would be spending April playing day games at Comerica Park and entertaining area students taking field trips to the ballpark for education-themed days. These obviously aren’t normal circumstances, but manager Ron Gardenhire and pitcher Matthew Boyd are keeping students in mind during these trying times caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gardenhire and Boyd have each pledged $5,000 to Big League Impact as part of Home Plate, a partnership between Major League Baseball, the Garth Brooks Foundation and Big League Impact to battle childhood hunger and combat food insecurity.
Home Plate, in turn, tripled the Tigers’ donation for a total contribution of $30,000 to Detroit Public Schools Community District. The money will go to help feed 1,400 students and their siblings through meal deliveries.
“We are grateful for the support of the Detroit Tigers, especially during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District. “This generous donation will help feed many of the most medically fragile students in our district and is a powerful demonstration of the Tigers' organization standing together with DPSCD in support of children and families who are in need.”
With schools closed due to the pandemic, many children in need lost daily meals they received while in class. Detroit Public Schools has been operating grab-and-go sites for food distribution, as well as food delivery for those in particular need. The donation will help provide 4,200 meals.
“No child should ever have to worry about where their meals are coming from,” Boyd said. “The real heroes are those people making the meals every single day, the people running these organizations year-round to feed these children. We’re just trying to do our little part.”
This is the second consecutive year Boyd has contributed to the cause for Detroit Public Schools through the Home Plate program. He and then-teammate Tyson Ross contributed near the end of last season to help the school district provide meals for 600 needy families over the holiday break, when classes were out.
Gardenhire heard about the Home Plate program through Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson, whom Gardenhire managed in Minnesota.
“I sent a donation over with Boyd,” Gardenhire said. “Anything to do to help. I’m pretty fond of Detroit and the people there. They’ve been very good to my wife and myself, so it’s good to be able to give back.
“Everybody’s being pinched, and the food’s really important to all these kids.”
With schools closed unexpectedly since last month, the program moved up the funding to help when it’s needed most.
“With everything gong on, we wanted it to happen a little earlier this year,” Boyd said. “Obviously there’s a need right now, and it was great that we could make it happen.”