NORFOLK, Va. - In the midst of a heartbreaking moment, one baseball fan was in search of a way to lift his spirits.
At the start of this year Michael Rivers found out that his father's lung cancer spread and aggressive treatment was required. Around that same time, Rivers was in communication with a former Twins minor league baseball player who was facing financial hardship, and Rivers quickly found a source of happiness during a tough time.
“As I tell people, I needed a win, so I started with that and it felt really good," Adopt a Minor Leaguer founder Rivers said. "I'm like you know what, I want to do this again.”
That's when Adopt a Minor Leaguer was born.
The organization matches sponsors with minor league baseball players, many of whom make below minimum wage.
Sponsors help out the players with needed funds and care package, something that's become even more essential since baseball's postponement at the start of the pandemic.
"With the MLB side, they'll be okay during this because they'll have TV [broadcasts] and stuff," Orioles prospect and VCU product Connor Gillispie said. "We're kinda like, we don't know what's gonna happen."
Orioles prospects Gillispie and Dalton Stambaugh are just two of many who have been sponsored through the Adopt a Minor Leaguer program, which currently has more than 400 players sponsored.
"It was really unreal to me," Gillispie said. "I didn't think that many people cared, so that was really informing and I'm really grateful for that,"
"They didn't help to do this and it's helping a lot of guys," Stambaugh said. "I really respect them and it's nice to have people understand what some minor leaguers may be going through in these times."
Some sponsors look to help players in their favorite Major League Baseball team's organization and others look to lend a hand to any player in need, like Rivers, who found himself helping an organization he's not too fond of.
"Here I am a big, kind of anti-Yankee guy, and here I am helping the Yankee minor leaguers," Rivers said.
While Yankees prospects were quarantined in their Spring Training hotels for a couple of weeks, he put together a care package with food and entertainment for them.
"I actually made some nice friends of these Yankees," Rivers said. "I said I'll root for ya, until you play my Twins."
Any players that need help, or sponsors who would like to help, can learn more at https://adoptaminorleaguer.com/.