TAMPA — Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough and wife Nicole wanted to acknowledge the work being done in the fight against the coronavirus by frontline staffers at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
So Thursday, they did just that — and helped a local business in the process.
The Yarbroughs, accompanied by Rays prospect Shane McClanahan, treated the doctors, nurses and staffers in the critical-care unit to coffee and pastries from Tampa’s Buddy Brew Coffee, with enough for about 125.
“We realized in these times, with how much is going on, we know how much the healthcare workers especially at the hospitals are doing for us,” Ryan Yarbrough said. "We just really wanted to do our part. And partnering with a local coffee shop that we really cherish and we go to all the time any ways, Buddy Brew, to be able to help them out at the same time and be able to show appreciation to the workers at the hospital, I think it was just a win-win situation for us to kind of say, "Thank you.' "
Treating frontline workers while supporting local businesses has become a growing trend among pro athletes, and Nicole Yarbrough said that’s where they got the idea.
Several Bucs players and staffers did so recently, providing meals to healthcare workers and others. Former Rays pitcher Chris Archer, now with the Pirates, did something similar for the staff at All Children’s Hospital with food from Bandit Coffee in St. Petersburg. And, modeling a program their players did in Pittsburgh, the Pirates and their Bradenton-based minor-league affiliate bought 400 pizzas to feed staff at two area hospitals.
“Ryan and I talked it over, that it’s such a small thing for us to do but it makes such a big impact,” she said. “We were just hoping we could bring some joy and follow in the footsteps of what some other guys have done and be a part of something bigger.”
They had some connections, besides Nicole having two close friends who are nurses in the Atlanta area. They live in Tampa, they are regulars at Buddy Brew, they heard that coffee shop employees had some personal ties with the hospital staff, so it all fit together.
“We wanted to do something on the Tampa side that we hadn’t seen, and picked two places that are very close and dear to our hearts,” she said. “We love coffee and really enjoy Buddy Brew. They were really excited because they have personal ties to St. Joe’s. So we were helping Buddy Brew, Buddy Brew was helping them, and St. Joseph’s was helping the Buddy Brew family. So it was kind of full circle. That was a big thing for us.”
The Yarbroughs, plus McClanahan, who is living with them, made the special delivery Thursday morning — adhering to social distancing rules — and were touched by the reception they got from hospital staff that met them outside.
“We can’t really do much and obviously they’re on the front lines, so it was just our little way of showing our appreciation,” Ryan Yarbrough said. “I don’t know if I really expected them to be so thankful and so appreciative. I think the gesture itself meant so much to them. Everyone was in great spirits, especially with all the hours and all the work they’re doing right now. Everyone seemed really upbeat and really thankful for everything.”
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Morton, Wendle pitch in
Pitcher Charlie Morton and infielder Joey Wendle are the Rays’ representatives in a Major League Baseball-wide program that has raised nearly $1 million and will provide more than 4 million meals to support childhood hunger prevention. Players made donations to support the Home Plate Project, which is a partnership between MLB, Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation and Big League Impact, which is led by pitchers Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and Kyle Gibson of the Rangers.
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