WS2013 Gm2: Red Sox recognize Baseball Tomorrow Fund

BOSTON -- The Baseball Tomorrow Fund was recognized during a special ceremony before Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park on Thursday night, with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association presenting the organization with a $2.5 million donation toward the worldwide growth of youth baseball and softball.

BTF is a joint initiative between the MLBPA and MLB designed to promote that growth by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coach-training material and other selected program expenses.

"Tonight's announcement from MLB and the MLBPA symbolizes our solid commitment to helping communities and organizations provide quality baseball and softball to children around the world," said BTF executive director Kathy Bradley. "For 14 years, it has been our great pleasure to award grants that have benefited thousands of young players. We look forward to many more years of the same."

Since its formation in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 700 grants totaling $24 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia, serving more than 330,000 youths.

MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and MLBPA deputy executive director Tony Clark presented the check to BTF. Accepting for the fund were two members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the official MLB charity and the organization for which Game 2 was partly dedicated.

Foulke promotes healthy living at youth clinic

Keith Foulke visits Boys and Girls Club

BOSTON -- Keith Foulke stood in front of a couple hundred Boys & Girls Clubs of America kids at the Roslindale Community Center on Thursday afternoon, and not a single one of them were old enough to recall that night that the Boston Red Sox finally won a World Series again.

But they knew about this man before them who, they were told, had thrown the historic final pitch of that four-game sweep of the Cardinals, a precursor to this 2013 World Series between those clubs. And they were all ears as he spoke to them at Major League Baseball's "Wanna Play?" youth clinic, teaching them the importance of living healthy, and they laughed hysterically when he gestured at Wally the Green Monster and told them not to develop a physique like that.

"It's very exciting to be here," Foulke told them. "We're here today to talk to you about staying fit and healthy and developing habits that you're going to take through your life to be healthy and strong. Some of my fondest memories growing up were playing with my buddies in my neighborhood every day, and those are still some of the guys I talk to today.

"Be active -- don't worry about the video games. Go out for a run. Play with your buddies. Just realize that you're developing habits and friendships that will last a lifetime."

The Boys & Girls Clubs event was part of MLB's fifth annual World Series community initiative program for Games 1-4, each game dedicated to different themes for a lasting legacy. Game 2 is focusing on two long-time MLB charitable partners in Boys & Girls Clubs and Habitat for Humanity. After the "Wanna Play?" clinic, MLB visited a V.A. Hospital for military veterans, followed by the presentation of a check to its Baseball Tomorrow Fund.

For Game 3 in St. Louis, MLB will highlight its commitment to youth from underserved communities through Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the importance of education through the Breaking Barriers program, and celebrate community service through the announcement of the winner of the Robert Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Game 4 will look to inspire fans worldwide, to join MLB and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in advancing the fight against cancer.

"I think times have changed a lot since 30 years ago, when I was a kid," Foulke said. "There are a lot more food options now -- not all of them are healthy, with all the fast food. I think it's important to get the point across to them about eating healthy, and how it's not something that's just for now and next year, but they're developing lifelong habits now. Being active, and being with friends, those are friendships they'll keep throughout their life."

Foulke lives in Phoenix, and he said he had a blast reuniting with members of the 2004 title team while attending Game 1 on Wednesday night.

"I'm so far removed from it now that it's nice to be able to enjoy it, I mean I'm here as a fan," Foulke said. "I try to watch the games at home. I really love the city, I love coming back here, and to see the hype in the city now and see how they've adapted to these players. And these guys go out and play hard, they play the game like I like to see played. It's easy to get behind them. They're not the best-looking bunch of guys out there, but they're fun to watch, and I'm here to root for them."

What does he remember most about 2004?

"That's what we were talking about," he said. "After that Yankee series ... you can't write that stuff. It happened, and obviously it was a fairytale for us where we came back and took care of business. At that point, with the guys in that clubhouse, we were so locked in on what we had to do, we didn't think about who was on the other side. We didn't have big pep talks and 'Rah-rah, let's go.' Every man knew exactly what to do to get his job done, to help the team win. We got the breaks throughout the series, and I swear it lasted about 15 minutes. I was like, 'That was the fastest four or five days of my life.'"

Does he still have the curse-reversing baseball? That has remained an ongoing saga.

Silence followed a reporter's question. Then Foulke laughed and said, "Wait until you read the book or see the movie."

The clinic was run by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, and Red Sox head trainer Rick Jameyson was one of the speakers.

"It's important," Jameyson said. "It's nice to have an event like this and utilize the excitement around the city to build healthy habits. We see the trends in America and everything that was leading up to this, and anything we can do to teach them the very basics of a little bit each day, eating healthy, and building on that throughout their lives. It can be as simple as doing some sit-ups while you watch TV instead of just sitting there. Just that little bit to keep yourself healthy.

"Human beings kind of take the path of least resistance. It's much easier to be entertained by a TV or video-game system, and to get outside and interact with other people or find other people is very tough. So programs like this really encourage people to get outside, whether it's through 'Wanna Play?' or activities through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It also builds a following for Major League Baseball in getting them excited by what we do."

MLB contingent visits wounded veterans

Red Sox, Mass General Hospital teamup to help vets

BOSTON -- After Game 1 of the 109th World Series was dedicated to military veterans and their families, Major League Baseball continued to drive home awareness Thursday afternoon with an event that drew Commissioner Bud Selig, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, Hall of Famer Jim Rice, Red Sox legends and other dignitaries to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

The delegation met there with veterans who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries in the field of combat, and they also received a lengthy tour from doctors, who unveiled some of the latest technologies, including bionics, that are helping these men and women return from horrors to live meaningful lives.

"It was very, very emotional for me," Selig said. "It means a great deal for me. I tell the clubs all the time that baseball is a social institution with important responsibilities. We are lucky we are able to do things like this. A lot of people sometimes say, 'Well, I have to do this, I have to do that.' This is a privilege, and if we can help, it's great. The work they are doing here is just stunning, hard to believe all that I saw. If we can play a role in helping people's lives get better, it makes you feel good."

The Commissioner joined representatives of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, who collaborated for the innovative Home Base Program. It is supported by Welcome Back Veterans, launched in 2008 by MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation with more than $28 million in funding so far. A total of $15 million in grants has been awarded to non-profit agencies and hospitals supporting the greatest needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families, focusing on PTSD and TBI.

The event at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital was part of MLB's fifth annual World Series community initiative program for Games 1-4, each game dedicated to different themes for a lasting legacy. This one was an extension of the Game 1 theme dedicated to returning military veterans and their families.

Game 2 is focusing on two long-time MLB charitable partners in Boys & Girls Clubs and Habitat for Humanity. For Game 3 in St. Louis, MLB will highlight its commitment to youth from underserved communities through Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the importance of education through the Breaking Barriers program, and celebrate community service through the announcement of the winner of the Robert Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Game 4 will look to inspire fans worldwide, to join MLB and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in advancing the fight against cancer.

"Nearly 3 million young men and women have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan over the 12 years of war we have faced," said retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond, executive director of Home Base. "Of that, one out of every three is estimated to have some level of post-traumatic stress, and one out five is estimated to have to minor to medium traumatic brain injury associated with combat duty. Three million children have been affected as being close relatives of the service members who have deployed. We have had 22 service members commit suicide each day across America, one on active duty each day, and right now that exceeds the number of combat losses we face each day.

"The most important aspect of the program is connecting these veterans to care. Once they come home, they become part of the fabric of our country and they become part of the civilian fabric of our country and they become invisible. It takes the work of Major League Baseball, the Red Sox, some of our radio and TV outlets, to let them know and connect them to care. The important part is getting them to cross the threshold and say, I could use some help. Once they're there, Mass General has dedicated some of the best doctors in America to provide that care. And at state-of-the-art facilities such as Spalding and Mass General, we have the opportunity to provide world-class care to veterans and military families."

It has been said that for every warrior, there are 10 other warriors.

"And some of those warriors have been deeply affected," Hammond said. "Especially these young children. Imagine if you're a young kid about 12, 13 years old right now, your mom and dad may have left home for a year to 18 months on two to three occasions while you were a little kid. And each time they leave, it's tearing apart that fabric of that family and it affects those kids."

Rice was part of the tour, along with former Red Sox relievers Keith Foulke and Mike Timlin, and he said he was especially moved by the fact "they are willing and able to adapt."

"You're talking about veterans who have protected us," Rice said. "So they come home, and in many cases there's nothing to help them get [their lives] back. With these facilities, there's something to look forward to. With the technologies available, it's almost like if you've lost a limb, you're getting a better one.

"It's heartbreaking, but it's also heartwarming. A lot of players, even though they're professional athletes, can't take this. Because we've been professionals, we want everybody perfect, and life is not perfect. By playing the game of baseball, we go 0-for-4 or 0-for-3, and we are having fits. You come here and you see these guys and ladies here, and it puts it all in perspective. Life is very short. You could lose a limb at any time, or you could lose a life at any time."

Habitat, MLB join forces for Game 2 initiative

Red Sox, Habitat for Humanity team up, help families

BOSTON -- Mohamed and Safiyo Bule moved from Somalia to a Kenyan refugee camp and then made their way to Boston, where they have been living with their five children in a cramped third-floor walkup apartment while he works by day as a Quest medical technician.

Their American dream has been a home to call their own, and on Thursday that was made possible by Habitat for Humanity, Major League Baseball and the Red Sox. The family was officially handed the keys to a new home in the rebuilding Dorchester community, at a crisp-air morning event on the day of Game 2 in the 109th World Series.

"This is very good for me because I have an opportunity, a place to feel safe and to raise my kids, where otherwise I have to move too much," Mohamed said. "Here it is stable and where I feel like I can have more space than where I usually lived. So this is a very exciting time for me and for my family."

Like in Detroit a year ago, this has become part of the tradition at the Fall Classic. The Habitat event was part of MLB's fifth annual World Series community initiative program for Games 1-4, each game dedicated to different themes for a lasting legacy. Game 2 is focusing on two long-time MLB charitable partners in Habitat as well as Boys & Girls Clubs of America. After the Habitat event and a "Wanna Play?" youth clinic, MLB visited a V.A. Hospital for military veterans, followed by the presentation of a check to its Baseball Tomorrow Fund.

For Game 3 in St. Louis, MLB will highlight its commitment to youth from underserved communities through Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the importance of education through the Breaking Barriers program, and celebrate community service through the announcement of the winner of the Robert Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Game 4 will look to inspire fans worldwide, to join MLB and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in advancing the fight against cancer.

"There's this special atmosphere of autumn in Boston, and we feel it today," said Dr. Charles Steinberg, Red Sox executive vice president. "If you could capture the air, you would feel that this is World Series time. And when you can take the World Series at Fenway Park and now drive just a couple of miles and impact a family who is so inspiring in what they've gone through, from Somalia to Kenya to Boston, putting in hundreds of hours of sweat equity. And you cut the ribbon on their new home, it is such a real and direct impact, it makes you very proud of baseball and what Major League Baseball does and can do for a community."

While many of the 30 Major League clubs have worked for years with Habitat, MLB's relationship goes back to 2005, when it built 33 homes for families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "Sweat equity" is a big part of the partnership formula for success, as families like the Bules have been involved from the outset in making this dream come true. They have had to work 300 hours, whether helping build their home, working on someone else's home or working at a Habitat store that sells donated materials.

"Habitat believes everybody is entitled to a better place to live," said Lark Palermo, president and CEO of Habitat in Boston. "Our goal is to help low-income families become homeowners by combining charitable contributions with donations of materials and volunteer labor. We provide them with a zero percent interest mortgage so they can buy their house from us."

This part of Dorchester is disadvantaged, the result of riots in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968.

"Many years ago there was a lot of flight from this area into the suburbs and a lot of abandoned buildings," Palermo said. "This particular site had a lot of damage after riots, and the city came in and razed all the buildings, and it has sat vacant for almost 35-40 years. So Habitat was really fortunate that we were chosen to redevelop it, as we have today.

"This particular family came to this country as many people do leaving behind everything they knew -- their language, their culture, their other family members -- because they believed they could make a better life in our country. And they have worked very, very diligently and conscientiously with us for their 300 hours of sweat equity, as well as attended 10 classes that we give on home ownership matters -- budgeting and finance issues."

Four-time World Series champion Mike Timlin, the former Red Sox reliever, was on hand for the Habitat ceremony and joined a tour of their new home.

"It shows support for the community, and the community shows support for MLB through this town with the Red Sox," Timlin said. "Having such a tight community, showing so much support in the time I was here, six years, it's just easy to return it. This is a great idea, and it's beautiful to help families that don't have everything that I've had.

"To see a family that needs it, it's amazing."