I read about this a few years ago, but it was a brief thing that didn’t make a ton of waves, mostly because the Tigers and their late owner Mike Ilitch weren’t interested in making a big deal out of it.
In the wake of Ilitch’s death, however, we’re reminded that he paid the rent of civil rights icon Rosa Parks for several years. In 1994 Parks’ home was broken into and she was assaulted. In the wake of that awfulness, a local judge and a real estate developer helped her find a new apartment in a safer neighborhood. Ilitch, when he read about it, called the judge and the real estate developer and said he would pay for her housing as long as necessary and cut thousands of dollars in checks to that effect.
I’ve heard some people poke some holes in this over the years. It’s possible Ilitch did not pay her entire rent for the rest of her life or perhaps someone else contributed or any number of other scenarios unfolded. It’s clear, however, that Ilitch did reach out and did pay good money for Parks’ benefit out of the goodness of his heart and with little if any desire for publicity.
There are no doubt any number of skeletons one can find in the closet of any octogenarian billionaire. Skeletons often come with that territory. But there is no question that Ilitch did a great many of good things for people and his community as well. And as he shuffles off to sports owner Valhalla, it’s good to hear about some of those things.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.