PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- On Thursday morning in the visitors' clubhouse at Tradition Field, Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen pulled on a red T-shirt with a giant white backward "K" across the chest and the word "cancer" strung across below it.
A big box of the shirts had arrived at the Nats' spring stadium in Viera, Fla., the previous day, reflecting Stammen's partnership with the "Strike Out Cancer" initiative started recently by Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. Stammen will pass out his shirts to teammates, and they also are available online.
"I'm honored that [Motte] asked me to be a part of it," Stammen said. "Anything I can do to help anybody is a good thing, and cancer's a big thing in the United States and it affects a lot of people -- affects pretty much everybody in some form. So I'm glad to help out, do the best I can to work for a cure."
The website 108stitches.com went live on March 17, with 108 Stitches showcasing the "Strike Out Cancer" tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefit from the T-shirts sales, and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.
"At the end of the day, it's about reaching people," Motte said. "Baseball is great and everything, but there are other really important things going on out there that affect a lot of people. Wearing these T-shirts shows people that they're not alone. They're not sitting there doing chemo by themselves where no one cares. People do care, whether it's friends, family or baseball players. There are people who this has touched and this has affected. This is something we're trying to do to get the word out there and try to raise money to help."
For his shirts, Stammen chose to send his part of the proceeds to the Darke County Cancer Association, which helps people affected by the disease back in Stammen's home county in Ohio. Stammen was born and went to high school in Versailles, Ohio, and attended the University of Dayton before the Nats drafted him in 2005.