As one of MLB’s loudest voices, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer has also been one of the quickest to organize support for part-time and hospitality staff who help make pro baseball what it is.
Bauer remains in Arizona after MLB and the players’ association agreed to a deal under which players can remain near their Spring Training facilities or travel home while the United States manages the COVID-19 outbreak that fueled a global pandemic. Bauer, who hasn’t always been a beloved figure within baseball, wanted to do some good amid the crisis, so he and a few other players organized a Sandlot-style Wiffle ball game over the weekend, from which the proceeds were added to Bauer’s GoFundMe campaign to generate relief for Reds stadium and game day operations workers. That campaign has raised over $24,000 already.
UPROXX spoke with Bauer on Monday to discuss his efforts and what life is like during MLB’s hiatus.
What has that situation been like? I know the league allowed players to remain where Spring Training was or go home, kind of play it by ear, but how many guys are staying (in Arizona), at least from the Reds or from what you can tell?
I honestly couldn’t give you a number. I know a lot of guys took off, went home. I know a lot of guys are staying here. Some guys were talking about going to Cincinnati. Everyone kind of scattered.
The majority of the conversation so far has been about making sure everyone’s safe, everyone’s healthy, and everyone’s with their family if that’s something that they chose to do, so I can’t really give you a solid number.
So with the Wiffle Ball game that you did, where did that idea arise from, and how much money did you raise with the event?
That idea came from my good buddy David Carpenter. He tweeted about getting some guys together to do a Sandlot game, have some fun, and stay in shape and whatnot. When I saw the tweet, I thought it sounded like a great idea, started working through the logistics with all my people here at Momentum, decided we could put it on, reached out to some guys, had a lot of guys reach out to us who were interested, and turned it around in about 36 hours.
(We) just tried to put on something that was entertaining for the fans and could actually help people as well. We’re supporting stadium workers that make games possible but kind of go unnoticed a lot of the time, cleaning the stadium, concession stands, ushers, all those people that are there but no one really notices. We’re trying to help support them, and I think we’re over $23,000 so far, so we’re trying to get that number up to help those people.
Do you expect the MLB to step up in the same kind of way that so many other leagues and teams have to help (your cause), help other players, and come together to support (league and team employees)?
I would hope. I guess it’s my hope overall that the league and union can come together and get a deal in place, and agree to something, that one specific side doesn’t try to get the best deal possible, that we get something agreed upon so we can help the people affected.
Obviously, in my position, I’m OK. I’ve been very fortunate to be in a position where I’m OK right now, but there’s a lot of people who are going paycheck-to-paycheck or don’t have a paycheck right now, and those are the people that I’m focused on, trying to help them. So I hope the league does something along those lines and gets a deal worked out soon so those people can be helped.
That being said, there are a lot of people, not in the baseball industry, a lot of people who are affected right now. Kids aren’t going to school, there are a lot of people who rely on going to school to be able to eat meals everyday, and small businesses closing, people that don’t have healthcare and rely on a paycheck to be able to afford medication when they get sick, so it’s just a lot of things moving. My hope would be that people who are in a situation who can help, they step up in whatever way they see fit.
What would you say is the expectation among players regarding when you guys expect to get back out on the diamond and at least work, if not play games?
I don’t know if there is an expectation. No one really has any idea. People can speculate, but as of (Sunday) it was April 9, then today it’s delayed another eight weeks, so it’s May 11 is the earliest (the regular season) could possibly start. After that announcement comes, we hear the government recommends gatherings to 10 or less when yesterday it was 50 or less.
Everything is changing so rapidly that no one really has any idea when it might pick back up. Hopefully it turns a corner, and hopefully some of these measures that we’re taking as a country help out and we start accelerating out of the funk that we’re in, but who knows. It could very easily go the opposite way, too.
Is there any message you want to give to baseball fans regarding COVID-19 or the 2020 MLB season?
First and foremost, stay safe. Take care of yourself and your family, those close to you. Be healthy. As far as where we’re at as players, we all want to go out and entertain, be an escape as we normally are for people — be entertainment for people and provide value to their lives. We’re sitting here wanting to be out there, wanting to perform and entertain you guys as fans, and the sooner we can do that the better, but for right now, the main thing is to be safe and take care of those that you’re close to.