Tampa, FL – Basketball's the game and kids at the Springhill Park Community Center are having a ball, especially when a surprise player joins them.
"You all playing? You all playing?" asks Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer, wandering up to a group of kids.
He may be more familiar with a smaller ball... but moments later, Archer launches one -- nothing but net -- and he's soon the most popular guy in the gym. He stands and smiles patiently when everyone lines up for photos.
"It's nice to meet you, Archer," says one girl, extending her hand for a handshake.
"Nice to meet you too," he replies.
Archer says while growing up, he spent countless hours at his hometown rec center, so that's why he was happy to help give away a slew of new sporting equipment. Just a portion of the helmets, bats, gloves, and balls of all sorts were on display at the center Tuesday, but more than $29,000 worth will be distributed to rec centers throughout the city of Tampa.
With support from the Tampa Bay Rays and 10 News, Archer teams up with the national not-for-profit group Good Sports for the equipment donations. "Good Sports is a great group. They're about what I'm about- being active, being healthy, encouraging kids to accomplish their dreams," he says.
So right along with the sporting goods, Archer also dispensed some good advice.
"Your potential is endless," he told the kids. "You can be a doctor, you can be a lawyer, you can be a teacher, a mentor. You can be whatever you want, as long as you make the right decisions, you'll be alright."
But enough with the serious stuff; the kids couldn't wait to test out the goods. With Archer looking on, bat in hand, they sent whiffle balls flying.
All in all…good times with a good guy. One girl had this to say about Archer. "I think he's very helpful and caring."