This month when pitcher Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals reports to spring training, he will begin juggling pitching drills, philanthropic projects and business class presentations.
Just 15 credits shy of earning a degree in entrepreneurship at the University of Dayton, Craig plans to finish his last semester of college while entering spring training and the regular season. He will take online courses and rely on email and web video chats to communicate with his professors while in Florida and on the road.
The decision to return to school was urged by his mother, Colleen, a teacher. During his junior year of college, Craig decided to follow his dream of playing in the big leagues and at 25 made his MLB debut.
Although baseball is very important to Craig, it’s is not the only thing. “In the whole scheme of things there’s a lot more to life than just baseball,” said Craig during a recent conference call with high school students from across the country enrolled in the Action Team national youth volunteer program.
“In the end, it’s great when you can help people out and put a smile on someone’s face, make them laugh and enjoy the day. The feeling you get from that is worth more than anything I have ever done on the baseball field,” added Craig.
Craig spent the last year immersing himself into charitable work. In December 2013, through Unlimited Potential (UPI), an organization run by former major and minor leaguers, Craig and others traveled to the Philippines to work alongside local missionary KiDS International. During the weeklong trip, Craig got to experience the Philippines and had the opportunity to play baseball with children from all walks of life.
“Being in the Philippines there’s a huge separation between first and third world. It was fun to see those kids enjoy what I get to do for a living,” says Craig.
Upon returning from the Philippines, Craig went to his hometown of Versailles, Ohio and participated in the 5th Annual Diamond Dinner, an event held to raise money for the facilities of his former high school. Recently, the school was able to build brand new, state of the art baseball and softball fields.
Now in its fifth year, the Diamond Club is transforming into a scholarship fund. “It’s exciting that it’s taking on a new venture,” said Craig.
In 2012, Stammen along with fellow Washington Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler signed up for a USO Holiday tour led by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Craig was ecstatic about the opportunity to visit the troops because his best friendfrom high schooland college teammate, Phil Eernst, is a Marine.
“Being in Afghanistan was an eye opening experience, one that I won’t forget. I will always have respect for our troops for going over there and fighting for this country.”
Over the weeklong trip, which included visits to four different countries, Craig and Ross had the opportunity to give thanks to the men and women serving our country and “let them know that we are thinking about them even though they are so far away.”
2013 served as an exciting year for Craig, as he pitched four innings of perfect baseball in a game against division rival Atlanta Braves, returned to college and traveled the world in an effort to make a difference in people’s lives.
“I get so much anxiety and pressure from playing 162 games a year and it matters so much to the team, but at the end of the day, we just play a game.”