Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sean Casey: Humanitarian

There isn't enough good I can say about the Detroit Tiger's first baseman. I mean, look at this.

Casey steps in, connects: Goes to bat to help feed hungry
By Michael Silverman

When Sean Casey left Fenway Park following Monday night’s game against the Red Sox , the Detroit first baseman didn’t return to the team hotel with the rest of the Tigers. Instead, he caught a ride to Lawrence in anticipation of a 6 a.m. wake-up call to prepare to feed the hungry at Cor Unum Meal Center.

The center is run by the Labels Are For Jars organization ( that Casey helped fund and found back in 2001 with his friend, the Rev. Paul O’Brien. The doors opened last autumn, but yesterday marked the first time Casey had been able to be in action and help feed, and then clean up after, more than 75 people.

“It was a dream five years ago and it was a reality today,” said Casey before last night’s game. “What for me was so special was that five years ago, Father Paul and I were talking about how wouldn’t it be neat if we started the Labels Are For Jars group, and raise enough money with T-shirts and all to build a center to feed the hungry.”

Casey met O’Brien through a mutual friend while attending the University of Richmond. The friendship grew when Casey played for Brewster in the Cape Cod League in 1994, when O’Brien was a priest in Concord. O’Brien officiated Casey’s wedding and baptized his three children.

“He’s been a big part of my life and we’ve had a great relationship,” Casey said. “Even to do this together was pretty neat.”

A steady stream of people arrived at Cor Unum yesterday, ranging in age from 6 years old to 85, Casey said. The tables were full for most of the morning. By the time everyone had left, and Casey, O’Brien and the center’s workers were done cleaning up the kitchen and dining area, Casey was left with a renewed sense of mission.

“It is a very, very humbling experience,” Casey said. “To think that there are people - not only homeless people but just people in general - who still need one meal a day, one good meal. To see those people get a hot meal, that’s what was so special about the whole thing. It was an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, no one should be hungry.’ ”

The Tigers’ one and only visit to Fenway Park ends tonight.

“I’m going to come back here with the whole family once the season is over,” Casey said. “It’s an easy flight.”

I liked him when he was on the Reds, and I have even more respect for him now. Cool shit, man.


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