When you think about athletes, some of the words that you’ll associate with them right away are rich, gifted and celebrities. I think all three are accurate, fair assessments. There is one major one, though, that I have to disagree with. Too often, the word hero gets thrown around when an athlete hits a game-winning home run or scores the winning goal. With the recent events that took place in Boston, the true heroes are the first responders and the police of the city. True heroes are the soldiers that fight for our country so that we can call ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave. For their on-the-field play, athletes are by no stretch of the imagination heroes.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry gets this.
“I’ve had some buddies that have gone over there and have gotten wounded. It’s near and dear to my heart,” McKenry said. “It’s so important to let those guys know how important it is what they’re doing and just volunteering to go over there is indescribable. They’re amazing and a true blessing to everyone over here.”
McKenry doesn’t only provide a big bat for the Pirates, he goes to bat for the community as well. McKenry is representing the Pirates and Grove City College by bringing injured troops families to the ballpark to watch the Pirates play. Along with bringing the families to the field, McKenry said that the college is granting him the opportunity to go speak at the college and spread his faith.
After all, playing baseball is only half of the job and isn’t even the most important half.
“They’re going to allow me to go over there [Grove City College] and speak to reach out with my faith. We’re slowly getting in the process with that,” McKenry said. “Whenever I can reach out to the community and give some positive feedback, I do whatever I can to do that. I don’t think being a baseball player is the most important thing. It’s reaching out, giving back and being a good human being.”
If you think it stops there, you’re wrong. McKenry has also partnered with Trib Total Media for “Take The Fort to School.” The Fort, which is McKenry’s nickname, will visit one lucky student’s school as a guest speaker.
McKenry said that it’s another opportunity that he’s looking forward to.
“I don’t know a whole lot about it yet. I do know they are giving me the opportunity to go to school with somebody who wins the contest,” McKenry said. “I’m excited about it and I love reaching out to the fans. Whenever I’m able to have the chance to do that, I’m going to.”
McKenry said when these opportunities present themselves, he jumps at the chance to give back to the community. In case you think he’s the only one of the team that does this, you couldn’t be more wrong.
“They approach you about it. They know when there’s an opportunity to do something like this, that I’m always willing and excited to help out. That goes for any of the guys in here. We have a really good group of guys in here when it comes to community service and giving back to the fans,” McKenry said. “That’s what it’s all about. The fans who showed up here the opening series in the 30 degree weather is a great example. It’s always great to give back.”
Photo Credits: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette