I know we often make light of the Philly sports landscape and I’m all here for it. But sometimes a story tugs at your heartstrings and this is certainly one of them. Phillies’ manager Gabe Kapler took to Twitter on Friday evening and paid tribute to a South Jersey fan, Matt Vecere, who was one of eight Americans who perished in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 208 that left all 157 people aboard dead:
Many of you heard the way I learned about Bryce’s signing. Fans sitting behind our dugout shared the news as they were checking their phones.
One of those fans was Matt Vecere. I know his name because two of his friends reached out to me. They told me how Matt shouted out to me “bat him third and he’ll give you 90 runs.” They reached out because Matt was one of the 157 people killed on board Ethiopian Airlines 302.
Matt was going to Kenya for the United Nations Environment Assembly. Matt was passionate about getting air and water filters to underprivileged communities and had a particular love for Haiti after doing work there over many years.
To honor Matt, I’m asking that you consider doing something for a cause Matt cared about. His mother described those as “the environment, civil rights, social and environmental justice, and advocating for those less fortunate.”
Baseball brings people together, but Matt strove for bigger causes than what we do every day. As he loved the Phillies, I hope the community can return that love.
This is one of those times where someone with a real platform in a position of power – as much power as sports management has at least – has put out a genuine tribute following a tragic event in an effort to inspire goodwill among the local community. Hopefully his call to action will lead to some charitable work from Phillies Nation.