Kelly Shoppach was never abused as a child nor knows anyone who suffered similarly, but lack of first-hand experience was no excuse in Shoppach's mind when it comes to supporting efforts to help abused children and women.
01/26/2010 10:53 AM ET
Shoppach stands tall against abuse
Catcher gives back to community to help victims overcome
By George Castle / Special to MLBPLAYERS.com
"I think it's unfair for kids to never have a chance," said Shoppach, the former Cleveland catcher who was traded to Tampa Bay in December. "They've never done anything wrong. Somebody in their family abuses them. So, if you can put a smile on those kids' faces -- do whatever you can to help them -- it goes a long way with them.
"I can only imagine the mental anguish they go through. To have a friendly face tell them 'good job' has to go a long way with them."
Shoppach's soft touch is improved by his three daughters -- Alexandra, Addison and Aubrey. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, he was taught early on by his mother to volunteer and become involved in the community.
"As I've become an adult, I carry that on with my family," he said.
Shoppach is involved with fundraising and awareness programs to help abused children and women. Yet some small donations go a long away, too.
A Wives Association Mystery Ball at Progressive Field was the top fundraising event while he was with Cleveland. Ticketed fans have the opportunity to purchase a limited supply of Mystery Ball bags, each of which contain a baseball autographed by a star player.
Shoppach didn't take long to become active in community work since going to the Indians early in 2006 from the Red Sox. His community involvement in Cleveland wasn't limited to fundraising for clinics for abused children and women.
Shoppach also participated in Tribe Reporter for a Day, Dick's Sporting Goods' Shop with a Pro, Major League Lunch and Signature Sunday. The Grand Slam for Literacy Program particularly touched Shoppach.
"We do what we can," he said. "Sometimes it's something just as simple as reading books to kids. That goes a long way. In the offseason, I go to my kids' school and just read books."
Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason, it won't be long now until Shoppach is having a similar impact on the communities of the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area.
-- Red Line Editorial