There wasn't a chance that Carsten Charles Sabathia would ever forget about the hours upon hours he spent at the community center in Vallejo, Calif., as a kid.
"I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club," he said recently. "It was a big part of my life from about first grade to eighth. I went there every day after school. I played everything [football and basketball in addition to baseball]. They made sure you did your homework. We had tutors. We had to do a book report a month to stay in the program. It was definitely good for us. I feel that's the major reason I'm here, because of the Boys and Girls Club."
That's why once Sabathia reached the Major Leagues, he didn't think twice before focusing his community efforts on the program that made such a big difference in his life.
He has established the Sabathia Baseball Clinic at the Boys and Girls Club and annually donates food around the holidays.
"The Boys and Girls Clubs is first on my list," he said. "That's my priority. I do anything I can, making appearances. They always have me doing something."
But Sabathia has generosity to spare when other good causes tug at his heart, too.
In Cleveland, he purchased 275 turkeys for Thanksgiving of 2002 for the St. James AME Church and the Greater Cleveland AIDS Taskforce. He also donated $3,000 to the Cleveland Food Bank for Thanksgiving meals in 2005. But one cause always stands out above the others in his heart.
In 2005, Sabathia also became involved in Barry Zito's "Strikeouts for Troops" program. The effort assists service members being treated at military hospitals with family travel and housing expenses. Sabathia contributed $100 for every strikeout that year, raising a total of $16,100.
"Strikeout for Troops is something [Barry] Zito came up with," Sabathia said. "I felt like I wanted to do everything I can to help them out when they came back [from Iraq]. I think it's a big cause. Anything I can do to help."
Sabathia had already visited other patients at Cleveland-area hospitals through the "Tribe Loving Care" program. Now he wants to focus some energy on visits to hospitals to cheer up recovering veterans.
"I would definitely love to," he said. "That's definitely something I'd like to do in the future. I was watching the HBO Special, 'Baghdad ER.' It was tough to watch. My wife couldn't watch it."
Sabathia also has been involved in the OfficeMax Parent-Child Clinics, The Red Cross Fire Prevention Week, the Cleveland Scholarship Program, Grand Slam Summer Literacy, High Achievers and the Giant Eagle week-long baseball camps.
He doesn't just talk about reviving baseball in the inner city. Through the length of his contract, Sabathia will donate a total of $250,000 to the Larry Doby RBI Program through Cleveland Indians Charities.
"The Indians charity donated to baseball and softball programs in the inner city because they were wiping it out," Sabathia said. "I think they can reverse it. You got to have a lot of these youth programs and make them work."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.