Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Steven Matz is well aware that when an athlete invokes his or her religious faith, it can sound like the recitation of a cliche.
In fact, when asked on Monday why he has felt so compelled as a young man to use his platform in service of others, he hesitated before answering, for that exact reason.
"Honestly …" the 28-year-old Matz began, "if I'm being completely honest, and it might sound cliche … but it all comes from my faith. I'm a Christian. I read the Bible. I read what it says, and it says to love others and help others. That's our calling."
Any sportswriter has heard his share of God platitudes. And this was most assuredly not one of them.
Of all the interpretations one can find in the Bible, the most pure -- not to mention totally apolitical and uncontroversial -- is the one that Matz invokes. No one can go wrong by helping others, especially during a global pandemic.
To that end, Matz's Tru32 Foundation, which he operates with his wife, Taylor, and his agency, ICON Sports, announced on Friday a donation of $32,000 to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, a facility battered by COVID-19. He also gave to the NYPD's foundation and the FDNY Foundation (first responders have been the focus on Tru32 since it launched in 2016).
Matz's desire to do good, which has already resulted in two Roberto Clemente Award nominations and last winter's Joan Payson/Shannon Forde Community Service Award from the Baseball Writers Association of America, pushes him out of his comfort zone.
A natural introvert, he is not thrilled to announce when he makes a donation, as he did last Friday on Twitter. But his purpose for doing so was to encourage others to donate.
In addition to giving, Matz included a link for others to do the same: www.supportelmhurst.org/donate.
"That's the reason we put it out there," he says. "It's not, 'oh, look what I did.' It's, 'we can all join together as a big community.'"
Again, if that reads as cliche, it hits the ear as entirely genuine. Matz believes in working for the greater good, and recognizes his unique ability to do so. He has internalized the Jackie Robinson quote that his agency displays on its website, "A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives."
"This is why we started [Tru32] in the first place," Matz says. "In unfortunate times, when tragedy strikes in the New York community, we can use our little platform to help. I've heard over and over again how that specific area [in Elmhurst] had been crushed, and it's right in our backyard where we play."
A native of Long Island, Matz lives in Nashville. He has spent many recent days working out in a gym in a friend's garage, which enables him to stay in shape while avoiding others. He also plays catch with teammate Brad Brach, who lives nearby.
Like pitchers all over the league, he had to ramp down a bit when he realized that the game's absence would last longer than initially believed, but he continues to prepare as best he can.
Like all of us, Matz is doing his best to maintain a routine and be ready when the world begins again. And like the best among us, he is working to help those on the frontlines of this crisis.