Not only is 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo a star on the field, he also kept the promise he made as an aspiring MLB baseball prospect off the field.
Anthony Vincent Rizzo was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB draft. He was one of the Red Sox top minor league prospects already showing what he could do. Rizzo was then traded to the San Diego Padres in 2010 and didn’t have to wait long to make the big club. On Jun 9, 2011, Rizzo finally made his major league debut with the Padres. He struck out in his first at bat, but then tripled and hit a home run in his other attempts. The Padres won 7-3 over the Washington Nationals. Then he was traded to the Chicago Cubs after the 2011 season.
While on a road trip, Rizzo discovered something didn’t feel right and called for medical assistance. Unfortunately, after being checked out, the news he received back would alter his way of living. The 18-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a kind of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. When Red Sox GM Theo Epstein heard this news, he knew he had to do something. He provided support for him and his family.
Epstein invited Rizzo to Fenway Park where the youngster was introduced to Jon Lester, a Red Sox pitcher at the time, who survived the deadly, but treatable disease. Lester inspired Rizzo while addressing the importance of the disease and getting it taken care of. They still as of today are good friends.
Rizzo was put through six months of arduous chemotherapy. In September of 2008 when Rizzo’s mother learned that her son was in remission through a phone call, and that his treatment was successful, it was absolutely worth it.
The first baseman then learned that he could once again play baseball and continue in his MLB career. He thanked both the Red Sox organization and his family for helping him out throughout his hard journey. He pledged to open a Family Cancer Foundation once he made it big in the Major leagues.
Rizzo was then traded from the Padres to the Chicago Cubs on Jan, 6, 2012 where he reunited with then Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Hoyer helped draft Rizzo in 2007 when he was with the Red Sox and then traded for Rizzo in 2011 while with the Padres. Hoyer took the blame for calling up Rizzo to the MLB too early.
Following his call up to the Cubs, Rizzo made an immediate impact. He hit seven home runs in the month of July, and led National League rookies for homers in that same month. Rizzo played solid for the rest of 2012 and earned his first big paycheck to remain with the club.
On May 12, 2013, Rizzo earned a seven-year, $41million contract. He was named a Cubs finalist for the “National Heart and Hustle” Award and for the “Roberto Clemente” Award. He finished 2nd in the “Gold Glove” Award as a first baseman. Despite a down season in 2013, the young Cub showed off his strong hitting power. He belted 23 home runs and 40 doubles in 606 plate appearances and batted .233.
The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation
Rizzo founded the “Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation”. The foundation raises money for pediatric cancer research. It helps families financially with services and medical costs. The foundation believes cancer is fought by the whole family rather than by just one person. His family along with the Red Sox Organization offered him that same love and support. Nevertheless, the love from both “families” is what kick-started his foundation.
Rizzo’s mother heads the foundation. They have many fundraisers throughout the year, including: A “Walk-Off” and a “Cook-Off” for Cancer.
Being the great character guy that Rizzo is, he never forgot that he promised that one day he would open a Family Cancer Foundation. His view on life changed with his cancer scare, never taking anything for granted. But more significantly, he knows that he has his family’s support every step of the way.
World Series Title
In 2016, Rizzo and the Cubs reached the World Series. The only obstacle standing in the way of the team’s first championship was the Cleveland Indians. During the series, Rizzo tallied 7 runs and 5 RBI’s and lifted Chicago to a world series title for the first time since 1908. Additionally, he earned the “Esurance MLB” Award for “Best Social Media Personality”, and for “Best Play: Defense”. Rizzo then won additional awards for his outstanding play in 2016. He was voted by the fans for the “Platinum Glove”, and then added two more. He won the “Silver Slugger” Award representing the best offensive player at first base for the National League. Finally, Rizzo took home his third “MLBPAA Cubs Heart and Hustle” Award. Rizzo would remain with the Cubs until 2021 when he was shockingly traded away to the American League.
New York Yankees
On July 29, 2021, Rizzo was traded to the New York Yankees from the Cubs along with cash considerations for Alexander Vizcaíno and Kevin Alcántara. On Aug. 4, Rizzo belted a solo home run against their AL East Rivals in the Baltimore Orioles. With that, he became the first player in Yankee history to RBI in his first six games.
Then on Sept. 30, Rizzo hit his 250th career home run vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. He hammered another solo shot (of course because the Yankees love solo home runs) off starting pitcher Robbie Ray. He became the first player in team history to accomplish this feat since Derek Jeter.
On March 17, 2022, Rizzo inked a two-year $32 million contract to stay on with the Yankees. He then hit a home run in both of the first two games of the season, becoming just the second player in the modern MLB era to homer in his first two games with a new team and again in that team’s first two games the following season. On Apr. 26, Rizzo hit three home runs in a game against the Baltimore Orioles.
You can now see him in the dugout every night, watching the game between innings with Aaron Judge. They have become very close since Rizzo’s arrival. They are both leaders on the team, and I hear that if you listen closely enough, you can hear Aaron Boone, (the Yankees’ Manager) calling Rizzo, Judge and Stanton, “the three dudes”.
One thing is certain. Anthony Rizzo is a tough cookie when facing him on the diamond. More importantly he is a person of morals, high character, and just a solid human being. He also makes time to visit the children in the hospital and brings them Yankees’ hats, jerseys, and balls. He surely brings out the children’s smiles!