WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Tucker Barnhart’s idea of a public baseball workout came to him earlier this week, and on Monday, he tweeted an open invitation to college and professional players near Indianapolis.
When the Brownsburg legend and current Cincinnati Reds catcher speaks, the baseball world listens. Nearly a dozen Major League Baseball players, more than 30 college athletes and nearly 150 baseball fans came out to Grand Park, for nothing more than to catch a little batting practice.
“We play because we love to play and this is kind of — it feels like I was in the backyard playing a glorified wiffle ball game, or on the sandlot playing in the summer, and I’m glad that it kind of exploded the way it did,” said Cincinnati Reds catcher and Brownsburg graduate Tucker Barnhart.
Along with Vanmeter, the rest of the celebrity lineup included McCutcheon’s own Clayton Richard, Roncalli’s Nick Schnell and Lawrence North’s Nolan Watson.
“I haven’t seen a live pitch since the middle of March. So, for me it was all about getting that timing back and I didn’t really realize there were this many guys in pro ball or guys in the minors in Indiana and the Indianapolis area,” Josh Vanmeter, Fort Wayne native and current Reds outfielder, said.
Schnell said, “I know I wish I had something like this when I was a little kid, just to see those big leaguers or see pro guys and how they went about their business.”
“Playing with the college guys, guys who are going to be in college, guys in the minor leagues, and guys that are in the big leagues. It was just a hitter and pitcher today, it didn’t matter,” said Barnhart.
So what started as batting practice grew into much more. It was the chance to pay it forward for the next generation of sluggers. While baseball fans watched the local standouts, Barnhart collected donations for his charity of choice.
In just a couple of hours, Barnhart raised $2,000 for the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, called RBI.
Barnhart said, “When the idea came up of RBI, it was a no-brainer to me. They give opportunity to people that may not have always had the opportunities to get out and play. And I think from a baseball fan and baseball player, you don’t want the game to go away.”
And thanks to Barnhart, the baseball pulse is strong in the Circle City.