2017 Nominee – Craig Stammen
Team: San Diego Padres
With the San Diego Padres (2017)
In his first season with the Padres, Stammen has hosted monthly trips to Petco Park for service personnel and their families, providing them with tickets, Friar Funds for food and merchandise, batting-practice passes and a private meet-and-greet.
“Because a couple of my best friends went overseas and served, I kind of know that the life isn’t very glamorous,” Stammen said. “Not only is the person in the military serving, but so are the families and kids back home. It’s almost like they’re on deployment also when they’re missing their mom or missing their dad.
“It’s about giving back to people that might not have it as good as I do.”
While with the Washington Nationals (through 2015)
Washington Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen has been a strong supporter of service members and their families. His best friend from high school and college teammate is a Marine named Phil Ernst.
Playing in D.C., Stammen regularly visits with wounded veterans both at Nationals Park and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In 2012 he joined General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his overseas holiday USO tour – an experience he described as “inspiring” and “life-changing” (video 1, video 2). It was the first time he left the country.
On why did he want to go on the USO Tour, Stammen said, “I had visited some injured servicemen at Walter Reed Army Medical Center last summer. It was quite an experience: to talk with them at length, learning about the troubles they were going through. Their sacrifices make possible the blessings in civilian life we take for granted. Their service to our country made me want to do something more to thank them for what they’ve given us.”
It was on this tour that he met Shane Hudella, president and founder of “Defending the Blue Line.” Soon, “Defending the Baseline” was created to ensure that military children would be afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of baseball. Stammen hosts a group from Defending the Base Line at Nationals games once a month, providing them with tickets, NatsBucks for food and merchandise, access to watch batting practice from the field and a private meet and greet. In 2013, he donated $35 per strikeout to the organization.