- Name: Adam Wilk
- Age: 31
- Organization: Durham Bulls, Long Beach State
(Photo courtesy: Adam Wilk.)
DNAOfSports.com author & creator, Patrick Kinas.
Growing up in southern California, Adam Wilk had the same dream as thousands of kids across the country. He wanted to play Major League Baseball. But as the son of a single mom where money was tight, just having a glove wasn’t a given for Wilk. Now, five years after making his debut with Detroit, Wilk is endeavoring to ensure that young kids in his neighborhood don’t face similar struggles.
After attending Cypress High, Wilk, now 28, played college baseball at Long Beach State, which has a strong pedigree of major league pitchers from Randy Moffitt to Steve Trachsel to Jared Weaver. After being drafted in the 11th round of the 2009 draft, Wilk immediately connected in the communities of minor league cities, speaking to kids, visiting hospitals and teaching kids at camps, routinely winning community service awards for the teams he’s represented. .
Even thousands of miles away from his home, working in the community was one of the ways that Wilk could give back. .
“I wasn’t always privileged as a young kid,” Wilk said. “My mom (Deborah) had to raise us, me and my brother, pretty much single-handedly on one income. Sometimes it was a struggle to have equipment or get the sign-up fees to be able to play little league or pony league.” .
Identifying with the kids was easy for Wilk. Growing up, though, was anything but standard. .
Wilk’s father passed away unexpectedly when he was just four years old, leaving Deborah to assume both parental roles. The work ethic and graciousness with which Wilk conducts himself was acutely learned from her. .
“She just did whatever she did to make it work,” Wilk said. “She used to have a ceramics business, but had to close that. She ended up going back to school to get her teaching degree, and then became a teacher. Some long days for her. She wanted to get her masters, so she’d work in the morning, throughout the day and then go to night class. It was tough.” .
As dedicated as Wilk is to his craft and returning to the major leagues, he is equally as dedicated to ensuring that underprivileged kids back home have the essentials that they need to enjoy the game of baseball and develop solid work habits to become productive citizens. .
This led directly to the creation of the Adam Wilk Foundation. .
“I really enjoy helping people out,” Wilk said. “I’ve put a lot of effort in with the teams I’ve pitched for. I figured it would be a good opportunity to start (a foundation). I have the ability to get equipment from teammates throughout the year. My teammates have been great. At the end of every year, I’m driving home with a car full of baseball bats and gloves and baseballs, anything lightly used that they’re ok giving up for me to hand out.” .
During the course of any given summer, Wilk subtly promotes his foundation through T-shirts, dialogue with his teammates and an occasional flyer in a teammate’s locker. .
“I have a couple of workout shirts with the Adam Wilk Foundation on the front and the logo on the back, and guys will see it and ask about it. Then I explain it to them and ask if they have any equipment that they are ok to part with or wouldn’t mind donating, I’d greatly appreciate it. A lot of it comes through word of mouth. Anything they give is great.” .
A large foundation, it is not. Come September, Wilk will once again pack his car to a comical level with gear and drive back to California. Hundreds of kids’ baseball dreams will soon come true again. .
“It’s pretty cool just bringing a bunch of stuff and seeing the joy and appreciation,” Wilk said recalling the first-ever drop-off of goods. “It was a high school. I brought some baseball pants and baseballs. They use aluminum bats in high school, but I brought them wood bats so they could use them in BP. A couple buckets of baseballs, some new gloves, some used gloves, batting gloves, a bunch of little things like that. They were just extremely appreciative of it.” .
“The kids in these programs, they’re sharing gloves inning to inning, they don’t have enough gloves, they don’t have enough batting helmets, it felt really good just being able to know that each year, players continue to give me stuff that I can continue giving that out and helping.” .
High schools, little leagues and other organizations have benefitted from Wilk’s generosity for several years now. .
“Because it’s a pretty small organization, I keep it around southern California,” Wilk said. “I contact little leagues and high schools that are in lower income areas because they don’t necessarily have as much gear or even baseballs. Baseballs are like gold to these high schools because they’re expensive. Even if they’re used baseballs that they can use for BP, they’ll take it. I’ve also been pretty proud of helping out a couple of challenger divisions where they’re disabled kids and they don’t pay any entry fees for their league. Everything that they get is basically through donations. To be able to help a cause like that, feels really good.” .
Wilk realizes that while his pro career has a shelf-life that will end someday, the impact he can have on these young kids is never-ending. .
“As long as I can help, and I have a forum to do it right now, I’ll do it as long as I can.” .
For people interested in donating lightly-used and new equipment, please message @AdamWilk58 on Twitter.