Between discussing his pitching mechanics, new teammates and expectations for 2010, new National Matt Capps spoke of the importance of family and character in a year that has been especially trying for the young closer.
On top of the strain of struggling through the ‘09 season and eventually being non-tendered by the Pirates, Capps lost his father, Mike, an instrumental part of his life and baseball career.
“I can’t tell you how much I missed him through this whole process,” Capps said. “It was tough for me because I talked to Dad...two or three times a day for the last eight years.”
Beyond running Matt’s little league team, navigating the business side of baseball and monitoring coverage by the press, Mike helped to define his son’s character.
“My parents, at a young age, instilled the importance of education in me and my brother. It’s something that is very important to my family,” he continued.
In turn, Capps has made education an important part of his community outreach initiatives. “It’s very important to me. I feel like it is a part of my duty as a role model to kids.”
In Pittsburgh, Capps participated in a variety of literacy and children’s education programs including Pirates Tales, a program encouraging children to read during the summer. He often visited elementary schools, underprivileged kids, sick children in hospitals and worked with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Homeless Children’s Initiative.
“I know how I was as a kid. I looked at professional athletes and baseball players particularly and I valued their opinion,” he continued.
“If I can, in turn, have a kid look at me and...change their life one way or another, I think that’s kind of my duty as an athlete and more importantly as a person.”