Last season, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer started his 69 Days of Giving campaign. He donated $420.69 to different organizations for 68 days in a row, and $69,420.69 on the 69th to Max Hayes High School, an inner-city Cleveland school focused on STEM courses.
(As you probably guessed, those numbers are not coincidences).
But this year, Bauer wanted to “spice it up and make it new.”
He went a step further, tying his on-field performance to his generosity. For every strikeout Bauer records this season, he will donate $10 to 69 different organizations, adding $690 to his overall donation total.
After eight more strikeouts in Monday’s win over the Mariners to bring his season total to 32, he has already generated $22,800 in 2019. The money this week went to organizations dedicated to providing kids with after-school opportunities.
Bauer’s desire to give back stems from his own experience growing up.
“I spent a lot of time alone as a kid ... I’m a nerd, but I was also an athlete, so I didn’t really fit into either one of the buckets,” Bauer told Yahoo Sports. “I want to help solve that problem for the next generation of Trevor Bauers who don’t really fit in any sort of bucket.”
Bauer also wanted to incite fan engagement. He enables people to submit charities they want the money to go to, then posts four popular choices to his Twitter feed for fans to vote on. The top three receive donations compiled with his following start, while the fourth is entered into the next poll.
Yet the donations are just the start. Soon, he will host kids from the My Inner Warrior Foundation — a Cleveland organization dedicated to providing baseball opportunities in the inner-city — at Progressive Field for a day at the ballpark.
“The intent is to help raise awareness for organizations, and then meet up with the kids that the organizations are helping,” Bauer told Yahoo Sports. “To be a role model.”
The campaign’s link to baseball was also important to the 2018 All-Star.
“It’s aligned perfectly with what I already like to do. I love punching people out. I wanna strike out 300 every year, to lead the league in strikeouts,” Bauer said. “If (I) can turn that accomplishment into something more lasting, that’s really what it’s about.”
And along with his own personal accomplishments, the Indians’ team success can benefit the campaign as well. Bauer pledged to spice things up even more if Cleveland makes the postseason, perhaps doubling his donation amount or adding organizations.
Bauer knows his on-field performance or other aspects of his Twitter feed may generate more attention, but he hopes his message gets through.
“I’m really passionate about helping people. I’m trying to make the world a better place because of my time here on the planet,” Bauer told Yahoo Sports. “I think that probably gets lost because it doesn’t generate a lot of click-bait.”
And at the end of the day, he wants kids to pursue their passion.
“Be yourself, find what makes you happy and what you love, and go do that. It might not be the coolest thing in high school, but once you get out of high school, that’s what is valued.”