|Zito's Strikeouts for Troops honors service members on Sept. 11 anniversary|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 11 September 2007 15:50|
He founded ``Strikeouts for Troops'' in 2005 to offer financial assistance to wounded service men and women and their families - and every major league pitcher taking the mound Tuesday got involved on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Zito's charity will receive $400 for every strikeout from the military financial service company USAA. Padres ace Jake Peavy even called Zito's publicist, Kathy Jacobson, to let her know he would do his best to fan a lot of Los Angeles Dodgers.
``We're in the third season now and it has picked up slowly, and it's just been great,'' Zito said before his San Francisco Giants played Arizona. ``To have a corporate partnership is great. They stepped up. They like they cause. There's no better day than Patriot Day today.''
Zito, who wasn't pitching Tuesday, met with USAA officials in Chicago during the team's trip there to face the Cubs in July.
Flags were flown at half-staff in the Giants' waterfront ballpark, where powerful pictures of the tragedy were shown on the main center-field scoreboard with the message ``9.11.01 We Will Never Forget.''
Outside the stadium, a Sept. 11 tribute was set up in front of a statue of Hall of Famer Willie Mays. It featured red, white and blue banners with thousands of names of the victims.
Zito gives $400 for each of his strikeouts - 121 so far this year, his first with the Giants after signing a pitcher's record $126 million, seven-year deal last winter. Other major leaguers also have agreed to donate money for certain statistics they reach this season.
About 120 players are currently taking part. St. Louis reliever Russ Springer signed up 11 of his Cardinals teammates this season.
``You never know where things are going,'' Zito said. ``It's like pitching: You go out and hope for the best. Russ Springer was huge and spread the word. Eventually one day we hope to have one player from every team.''
Before a spring exhibition game in San Francisco, Zito was recognized for his efforts when military members presented him with an American flag that flew in Iraq.