HOUSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter played host to more than 100 kids from Key Middle School and Yellowstone Academy at Minute Maid Park prior to Saturday's game as guests of the Bo Porter SELF Foundation that he and his wife, Stacey, began in 2011 to help underprivileged kids.
Porter treated the kids to lunch and an opportunity to watch batting practice on the field. Astros players Carlos Corporan, Dexter Fowler and L.J. Hoes spoke to the kids about the importance of education and sports as a path to success.
"When I was 11 years old, my Little League Baseball coach took our entire team to Yankee Stadium," said Porter, who grew up in Newark, N.J. "I was in complete awe, sitting there watching Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly. It was that day at Yankee Stadium I told myself I wanted to play Major League Baseball. The impact that game had on my life, I can't even describe it. It made me focus on that much harder, being a better player, and made me focus on taking care of my schoolwork."
The players stressed the importance of good grades and setting goals in and out of the classroom. Corporan, who's from a poor neighborhood in Puerto Rico, told the kids about coming to the U.S. when he was 17 to play in college without knowing any English.
"I ate the same food for over a month," he said. "It's what I had memorized to say."
Porter talked to the kids for about five minutes and told them about committing to their schoolwork and keeping their lives in order.
"A lot of these kids are coming from underprivileged, underserved communities, and I wanted them to understand that your circumstances don't determine what success you could have in life," he said. "All the kids, they had never been to a Major League Baseball game. This is exciting for them. I think they're going to leave here motivated to do something positive with their life, and I wanted them to understand that commitment, and the ability to carry it out long after the mood in which you made it has passed."
Porter's SELF Foundation stands for Sports, Education, Life skills, and Faith -- four things that Porter says are integral to him.