Imagine if you will a group of Major League Baseball’s top stars getting together to donate money for Iraqi citizens injured during the war, or for Lebanese civilians injured as a result of the recent bombings by Israel. Do you think America’s media would pay a lot of attention to such a charity? Probably every hour on the hour, right?
Well, at the beginning of the 2005 season, Cy Young award winner Barry Zito started a charity to raise money for American soldiers being treated at various military hospitals such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital. In the past couple of years, he and other stars like Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Chipper Jones, Jermaine Dye, Tim Hudson, and Dontrelle Willis have contributed several hundred thousand dollars to Zito’s “Strikeouts For Troops.” And yet, in the eighteen months since its creation, virtually no media outside of the San Francisco Bay Area where Zito plays and lives have bothered to report the existence of this marvelous charity.
Although Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid baseball player in the league, and plays for the high-profile Yankees, the New York Times hasn’t run one article on this subject. A little further north, even though marquee Red Sox players like Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling are participating, the Boston Globe hasn’t run one story on this either. And, further south, although National’s pitcher Chad Cordero is involved, the Washington Post has totally ignored this story as well.
As for the television media, none of the broadcast networks’ morning or evening news programs has addressed this star-studded charity even though it’s been around for a year and a half. For its part, CNN did one story on this back in May 2005 during the 1PM ET segment of “Live From”. And Fox News has done at least two stories on this, both on “Hannity and Colmes.”
The first was back in April 2005 when Zito first got this going. And, the second was aired on Thursday. So that you can see what a delightful young man Zito is, what follows is a transcript of his interview with Sean and Alan along with a video link courtesy of our dear friend at MsUnderestimated. As you watch, ask yourself why this charming and handsome young man hasn’t become a media darling as a result of his charitable efforts.
COLMES: And welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes". Joining us now is the founder of Strikeouts For Troops. Oakland Athletics all-star pitcher Barry Zito.
Barry, welcome back. Now you kind of launched this on "Hannity & Colmes", didn't you? Tell us what you're doing. This is great.
BARRY ZITO, OAKLAND A'S PITCHER: Yes. This is a pleasure to be on here again. I like you guys and I watch you guys. And yes, it's great. It's a foundation basically we set up to help out guys that come back from the deployments, wherever that can be, and that are recovering in the military hospitals.
And the money we raise via strike out or home run, depending on the pitcher or position player, goes right to these guys in the hospitals and helps them bring their family out and take care of their kids. And we call it the comforts of home.
COLMES: You've raised, as of the last time you hear about it, a quarter of a million dollars. A-Rod, for example, one of those participating, not for strike-outs but for home runs and you -- every time you strike somebody out, that's 200 bucks right there that are out of your own pocket, right?
ZITO: Yes, exactly. We started the effort last year, and in about, you know, two seasons we've raised about $250,000 and, you know, have all these guys across the league and also on my team to thank. And guys like Dan Herron on my team, Jason Kendall (ph), Mark Knopfer (ph), and everyone else across the league has just really helped out great.
COLMES: Barry, I know that you don't just put your money where your mouth is. You also spend time, you visit hospitals. What gave you the idea to do this in the first place?
ZITO: My family and I were really talking about how we can get baseball behind the troops and, being the fabric of America that baseball is ingrained in, and also, you know, the troops, as well, basically protecting America on a daily basis. We wanted those two to have a marriage. And we thought this was a good way to do it
COLMES: Who are some of the families, for example, that have been helped by this?
ZITO: You know, we have a lot of testimonials on the web site, StrikesOutsforTroops.org who you can go to. You can read the actual experiences of the different troops across the country that have been helped by the money.
And I got a chance to meet some of them out in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., when our team's on the road, and you know, along the way it's been great.
HANNITY: Barry, first of all, thanks for coming back on the program. We love having you, and thanks for what you're doing for these guys.
It's really terrific that somebody in your position really takes the time to do something that's really having a very profound impact. We appreciate all you're doing here. You're a Cy Young award winner. What year was that, 2002?
ZITO: 2002, yes.
HANNITY: All right. Now you're having a pretty good year this year. I think there's only four pitchers in all Major League Baseball with more wins than you this year?
ZITO: You know, I try not to look at the numbers, because sometimes you look at them too much.
HANNITY: I'm looking at them.
ZITO: And you try to achieve them. So I'd just like to stick to the passion of pitching, and whatever happens then, you know, I'm happy to do it.
HANNITY: Well, you're now ranked in, what, six short years now, fourth in Oakland history, trailing, you know, "Catfish" Hunter, Viter (ph) Blue and Dave Stewart. I mean, that's a pretty significant career that you're in the middle of here, in the midst of here.
When you see these other guys in baseball when they -- when you talk about this, do they have an interest like you do? Can you convince them? When you tell them about it they get excited about it?
ZITO: I think they do. I think everyone really across the league and most people in this country have a tie in one way to another -- one way or another to a soldier or someone that's gone abroad or maybe a family member, either a son or a grandfather. I think it really hits home with all of us. And I know, Alex Rodriguez's brother is involved in the military. And you know, that's why Alex wanted to come aboard.
And a lot of other guys, Tipper Jones (ph), is aboard with the Atlanta Braves. And I think he has some close ties, as well.
HANNITY: All right. So you had how many strike outs so far? You don't care about the numbers. I saw -- the latest I saw was about 140 or 150 so far this year?
ZITO: Maybe somewhere in there. Not as much as I would like. But, you know, that's why I'm doing 200 a year.
HANNITY: Well, that's still pretty good. I mean, you know I used to be a pitcher in baseball, but I either told you this last time I met you. Over the back stop or I would strike a couple of people out. There was no in between with me, as you can tell.
But so you sit there and you strike somebody out. And do you ever think about it when you're on the mound. All right, good, there's more money for the cause? That's pretty cool.
ZITO: To be honest, as focused as we are that has jumped into my head a couple times. And opening day, for instance, Alex just hit a home run off me, and I think he struck out twice -- twice that game. So between the two of those it was about 900 bucks. And so, you know, it's kind of bittersweet, but we're always raising more money.
COLMES: Barry, thanks a lot. I understand when Hannity was pitching, by the way, if he thought the batter was a liberal he tried to push them back. I understand that's what he did.
HANNITY: I actually threw it at them, Alan.
COLMES: Well, I was being a little kinder, actually. I didn't want to go for that joke.
But listen, Barry, thank you. Congratulations on the work you're doing and the money you're raising. And thank you so much for coming back to tell us about it.
ZITO: Yes. Thanks so much for having me, guys.
COLMES: We appreciate it. Thanks for coming back on the show.