America Supports You: Astros Relief Pitchers Support Troops
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 9, 2006 Five members of Major League Baseball's Houston Astros bullpen will collectively contribute to 'Strikeouts for Troops' this season.
Strikeouts for Troops a national project created by Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito, benefiting servicemembers injured in battle and rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C; the National Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.; and other military hospitals.
Brad Lidge, Trever Miller, Chad Qualls, Russ Springer and Dan Wheeler join the current efforts of 16 Major League pitchers and four minor league pitchers, including Triple A Round Rock pitcher Jason Hirsh, in providing monetary relief for injured U.S. troops and their families.
"We have so much respect for the men and women in our armed forces, and we want to do everything we can to support them," Springer said. "When we visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this year, it really hit home with us the sacrifice that is being made by these true heroes. It is an honor for us to support them and their families."
Lidge, Miller, Qualls, Springer and Wheeler will make a combined monetary donation to Strikeouts for Troops at the end of the season based on the final 2006 strikeout total from all Astros relievers. Through games of July 3, the club's relief pitchers had combined for 222 strikeouts this season.
Established in April 2005, Strikeouts For Troops has raised $190,836.50 to date through contributions based on various statistical categories from more than 30 professional baseball players on different Major League teams, special events and fan donations on www.strikeoutsfortroops.org, with the funds assisting America's war-wounded. Funds raised by the Strikeouts for Troops project help in many ways to bring comforts of home to hundreds of war-wounded soldiers during their rehabilitation process.
In addition, the organization has funded holiday dinners at military hospitals, bought Christmas gifts for families of patients unable to afford them, and helped build a hospital children's center where kids can stay while their parents tend to medical needs. The funds also help alleviate the cost of travel and housing expenses for servicemembers' families.
"I'm grateful to the Astros Brad Lidge, Trever Miller, Chad Qualls, Russ Springer and Dan Wheeler -- all fierce competitors whom I respect tremendously," Zito said. "We all have been incredibly touched by hearing the courageous stories from our brave soldiers during our visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. We are simply trying to give back to those who have given so much for our freedom and let them know we care."
The effort is also funded by contributions to the "Strikeouts for Troops Fund" at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.