In an era where too many professional athletes are making headlines for their off-the-field antics such as sex scandals, steroid use, domestic abuse, DUIs and such, it is refreshing to know there are athletes like Chesapeake native, David Allen Wright, six-time All-Star third baseman for the New York Mets. It is particularly exciting when said athlete played his high school and Triple A baseball close enough for you to have followed his exceptional career.
The front page of the Sunday, January 20th The Virginian-Pilot had a large picture of David Wright standing next to “Mr. Met” over a headline that read in bold and in all caps: FACE OF A FRANCHISE, HEART OF A COMMUNITY. The sub-heading read Mets All-Star David Wright comes out swinging to help lift the spirits of sick children.
The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, VA has been a special focus of Wright’s for about a decade, beginning before he moved up from the then Triple A affiliate, the Tidewater Tides, to the parent team, the New York Mets. Back then, all Wright had to offer CHKD except his winning personality when he visited patients there. From that, David decided to host a Christmas party for his friends and family where everyone would bring a gift of toys for the children. Neither he nor CHKD could have known then how this relationship would grow.
Last year, Wright’s second annual Poker Night for CHKD raised $111,000. Tickets for the event were sold out. Guests included other major league baseball players such as Michael Cuddyer and B.J. Upton. When interviewed about the event, David indicated he had developed a soft spot for CHKD when he was growing up and was always fascinated by the hospital. He said he heard stories about the kids through friends or by reading stories of kids who received minor miracles in the paper. He said the kids in the hospital got a kick out of having a Mets player coming to visit them. David gained some relationships and still keeps in touch with some of the kids today.
Wright played his high school ball for Hickory High School in Chesapeake, VA from 1997 – 2001. During that time, Chesapeake high schools and Suffolk high schools played in the Southeastern District. As a result, his statistics were often in our local papers. During that four-year career, Wright hit .438 with 13 home runs and 90 RBIs.
Wright’s plan to attend Georgia Tech was interrupted when the Mets chose him in the 2001 amateur draft. He progressed steadily over the first three years of minor league play, winning the Sterling award for best player on the class A St. Lucie Mets in 2003. In 2004, he quickly rose from the Double-A Binghamton Mets, to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, to the major leagues, making his major league debut on July 21, 2004.
Although Wright only played 69 games in 2004, he had a .293 batting average, 14 home runs and 40 RBIs. As a result, he was voted as This Year in Baseball Awards Rookie of the Year. This was to be just the first of many awards for the Mets third baseman. These include, but may not be limited to:
- MLB.com Play of the Year (2005, Barehanded Catch)
- 3 NL Player of the Week (8/28/2005; 6/18/2006; 9/6/11)
- 2 NL Player of the Month (6/2006; 6/2010)
- MLB Home Run Derby Participant (2006)
- 6 All-Star Selections (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
- 2 Gold Glove Awards (2007, 2008)
- 2 Silver Slugger Awards (2007, 2008)
- 30-30 Club (2007)
- New Jersey Sports Writers Association “Sports Humanitarian of the Year (2008)
- 2 Mets Heart and Hustle Awards (2008, 2009)
- Member of the World Baseball Classic (2009)
- New York Mets career RBI leader
- New York Mets career doubles leader
- New York Mets career total bases leader
- New York Mets career runs scored leader
- New York Mets career hits leader
In 2005, Wright began his own charitable organization, the David Wright Foundation. While its mission is to increase awareness about multiple sclerosis and to raise money for multiple sclerosis organizations and projects, other worthy causes have also benefitted. These include the Make A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York. Michigan Institute for Neurological Disorders, New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Children’s Hospitals of the King’s Daughters and the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
Last month, Wright signed an 8-year, $138 million contract with the Mets. When he signed that contract, he said, It was very important for me that I finish what I started. In other words, Wright wants to be a lifetime Met even though it has finished fourth for four years in a row.
Wright is now the longest-tenured Met on the team. He takes the responsibility of being a veteran and team leader seriously.
More importantly, Mets vice-president of media relations says this about the Mets star third baseman: “At about 50 home games a year, Wright takes time before or after the game to meet with children. It’s not a quick handshake or autograph. He sits and talks and tries to make the kids feel important. Eighty percent of the stuff he does is in the background. He always finds time for kids.”
Then he added, I always tell people that he’s a better person than player.
High praise, indeed, for the team’s top player.