Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck wasn’t adopted himself, but it’s always been a part of his life. Both his father and stepfather were adopted, as well as one of his two sisters.
He saw firsthand the way it could change someone’s life.
That’s why when he was picked up by the Red Sox as the 24th overall pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, receiving a bonus worth more than $2.6 million, he started considering charitable causes he could get involved with.
Before his first full professional season in 2018, he launched his “Pitch for Adoption” campaign.
“(My mom) gave me everything I ever wanted and let me do whatever I wanted to do growing up,” Houck said in an interview with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “That had an amazing effect on me. For me, I wanted to give back to something bigger than myself.
“I think starting it when I did was the best thing for me, so we can let this thing grow as my career grows. Then just continuing to push that envelope every year.”
Through “Pitch for Adoption,” Houck donates $25 for every strikeout he records per season to the St. John Bosco Children’s Center, a safe haven for children aged six to 18 that provides therapeutic residential care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in Southern Illinois.
The kids the facility takes in almost always are victims of serious abuse, neglect or have emotional trauma too severe for them to succeed in homes or foster care.
The mission of St. John Bosco Children’s Center resonated deeply with Houck, and he proposed a plan to help them raise funds.
In 2019, he hosted baseball camps and donated the profits along with his strikeout pledge. This year he’s planning more camps, a golf tournament and is hoping to get more teammates on board with the pledge.
“These kids were dealt a rough hand from the beginning,” Houck said to Cotillo. “I want to show them, ‘Hey, you have someone who cares about you. Someone’s fighting in your corner and wanting nothing but the best for you.’ So whether I can be with them 24/7 or just be with them once or twice a year, I just want them to know I’m here for them.”
At 23 years old, Houck received his first invitation to major league spring training this year and made three appearances (two starts). After the season starts up from its coronavirus postponement, the Red Sox will start him off in Triple-A Pawtucket, and he hopes to join the major league pitching staff later in the year.
But his strive for success isn’t selfish, as the greater his platform gets in Boston, the more children he can help.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images