Archer moved by visit to Fort Bragg
Packing a military parachute, Rays pitcher Chris Archer found out Wednesday, is not among his many talents.
"Just seeing how tough of a task it was was incredible,'' Archer said. "And I was terrible at it. It was really, really tough.''
That wasn't the only eye-opening experience Archer had during a full day at Fort Bragg as part of Fox Sports' Spring Training to the Troops program, touring the facility, meeting with and talking to service personnel.
"The way I understand it, they basically volunteer their lives to protect all of us, and there's nothing I can do to balance that out,'' Archer said. "But I'm glad I was able to give a little bit of time to show some appreciation for it.''
Archer lives about an hour from the large U.S. Army base in Fayetteville, N.C., but had never visited until Wednesday, much less grasped all that goes on there.
"The main thing for me is the awareness that it brought to me,'' he said. "I had a great appreciation for everybody before I came, but now there's an even greater one because I got to see hands-on.''
Archer started his day serving breakfast to the troops, then sitting down with some to eat and talk.
"It was great just to let them share their stories with me,'' he said. "They were asking a lot of questions about baseball, and I had to let them know that what we're doing is secondary in comparison to what they do.''
Another highlight was a visit to the base's Albritton Middle School, allowing Archer to interact with some students.
"That's my favorite thing, to use this platform to impact everybody, but with the emphasis on the youth,'' Archer said. "They had a lot of great questions for me on frustration, on failure, on how to handle adversity. I could totally relate to them because of some of the situations I've gone through in my life, and I do a good job communicating that to them.''
Along other major-league personnel and Fox Sports personalities, Archer also took part in simulation drills at the medical center, staged a baseball clinic, and signed autographs and posed for pictures during his Tuesday night and Wednesday visit.
"Honestly this is probably the best 24 hours of a community service-type event that I've ever done, just because we were able to impact so many lives in one day,'' Archer said.
Including his own.
"To defend this country like they do, that's an amazing thing,'' Archer said. "And it was an amazing thing for me to witness and be a part of.''