With just seven venues remaining, Matt Stoltz made the Major League Baseball Players Association’s office a pit stop on his 11,500-mile bike journey to see all 30 ballparks and raise money and awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Milwaukee.
Stoltz’ family didn’t have a television when he was young, but he nurtured a love of baseball by listening to legendary Bob Uecker broadcast Brewers games on the radio and tossing the ball around with his brothers.
In fact, a main reason for his Biking for Baseball journey – one that has taken him from Seattle through the mountains and snowbanks of Colorado and through Florida heat — is to spread word that a simple game of catch with a mentor can make a big difference in a child’s life.
“Mentally it can be tough, but the kids you are helping can’t get away from it and that is what fuels the fire,” Stoltz said of his two-wheel odyssey.
Financing the six-month road trip with money he saved and working with a $15-a-day budget, Stoltz has crashed on couches with friends, enjoyed the hospitality of strangers and sometimes uses the tent he has attached to his bike rack with a bungee cord.
Meeting new people and bonding over his love for baseball and helping children has been an especially gratifying aspect of his trip.
“One of the coolest parts about this is that I get to meet baseball fans from all over, for me it’s just fun, because when it comes down to it, I am just a casual fan with a passion for the game,” he said over lunch in an MLBPA conference room. “Kindness is what has made this trip possible.”
To that end, Stoltz said he’s received support from Major Leaguers including Josh Reddick, Max Scherzer, Adam Wainwright and former Major Leaguer Eric Byrnes. Reddick donated game used gear to be auctioned for the cause. Scherzer provided tickets and attended clinics for Biking for Baseball and his wife, Erica, serves on the board of directors. Wainwright provided tickets in St. Louis. Most recently, Eric Byrnes met with Stoltz in New York and offered to finance any hotel expense on the rest of the journey.
On Tuesday, the Players Trust donated autographed baseballs to be auctioned off for Biking for Baseball, and provided Stoltz with a Players Trust t-shirt.
The Players Association staffers also learned that this isn’t Stoltz’s first charitable journey. He once biked 1,600 miles from Wisconsin to Florida to raise money for sporting equipment for youth in developing countries, and it was during his six-month tenure in Kenya that he decided to pursue Biking for Baseball.
Stoltz said he has raised $20,140 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Milwaukee so far during his Biking for Baseball tour. He was scheduled to leave for Boston tomorrow (Wednesday, August 12).
“I’m used to being called crazy,” he said. “In fact, I have embraced the title crazy. You need to be crazy a little bit in life to take on a challenge like this, but in the end it’s all worth being called crazy.”
To view Matt’s travel map, a live tracker of Matt’s road trip, and to donate to his cause please visit https://www.bikingforbaseball.org/.
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