Meeting With the Tigers and Phillies at Spring Training

posted on March 8th 2017 in All Blogs & Current Events with 0 Comments /

This morning I woke up in Tampa, FL excited to head to Lakeland to meet with our MLB Advisory Board Member from the Detroit Tigers, James McCann. The weather this morning was 70 degrees, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

On the way to the ballpark we stopped at Mom’s Place for breakfast. Mom’s Place is a staple in Tampa and located just a block away from George Steinbrenner field, Spring Training home of the New York Yankees. After a wonderful breakfast, we jumped back in the car and headed to the ballpark in Lakeland.

As we stepped onto the field, it was 78 degrees and the Tiger’s position players were stretching as the team and began to warm up before they began their drills. Having played high school and college baseball, it brought back many memories of running the bases and doing infield drills. We were soon standing in the dugout visiting with the athletic training staff for the Detroit Tigers as the team began to take batting practice. One of my favorite sounds is listing to a baseball jump off a wooden batt and the echo it makes around the park.

Spring Training Detroit TigersToday, the Philadelphia Phillies were in town to take on the Detroit Tigers; our MLB Advisory Board Member for the Phillies is Aaron Nola. He was scheduled to start the game today. I looked forward to him taking the mound. Visiting these teams is very surreal – we have backstage passes to see some of the greatest athletes in the world playing the sport they love. As the players were taking BP, I began to get the custom All Me Shirts out and ready to give to James McCann. Tiger’s slugger, J.D. Martinez approached me and said, “Hey, I love those All Me PED Free shirts that I see other players wearing, may I have one?” It really hits home the impact we’re making when other MLB player want to wear our shirts! I told J.D. the only way I’d give him a shirt is if he would take a picture with me holding his very first All Me shirt and of course he said yes.

When the Tigers had finished hitting, we went to visit the Phillies Athletic Training Staff so that we could drop off Aaron Nola’s shirts since we wouldn’t see him on this trip. It was now 12:30 and we were just minutes away from the first pitch. Across the field I could see McCann walking towards me so that we could prepare for our on-field pregame ceremony. McCann approached with a big smile and a firm hand shake. He’s a great person and role model for our kids. I told him how much we appreciate him being a member of the All Me League at which point he said he was proud to be a part of it. After updating him on the work we’ve been doing to educate kids I was asked to walk to the area just in front of home plate. The announcer told the crowd over the loud speaker why the Taylor Hooton Foundation was there that day and that we were giving James McCann his 2017 All Me PSA.

IMG_1075When the announcer said James’ name, he walked out to the area just in front of home plate and in front of a large crowd I presented him with his All Me award. He shook my hand and told me how much he appreciated the award and said to me, “If there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.”

As we walked back towards the dugout following the ceremony we exchanged a few more words, shook hands and wished each other luck this year. It was a successful day and we were glad to honor James McCann, a first class guy, for his dedication to living and competing PED Free.

Following the ceremony we headed to the press box to thank the Tiger’s staff for hosting us, then headed to our car. From Lakeland we drove across the state to Port Saint Lucie to get ready for tomorrow’s meeting with the Houston Astro’s All Me League Representatives – Josh Reddick, Dallas Keuchel and Ken Giles.

about the author: Don Hooton