Baseball Players Support Red Cross

August 5, 2013

As a relief pitcher, Santiago Casilla is called on to help finish what someone else has started. But the San Francisco Giants player has taken on the starting role in supporting American Red Cross Blood Services in the Bay Area. And other players are beginning to follow his lead.

On May 7, Casilla dropped by the Red Cross’ Oakland Blood Donation Center to visit with local blood donors and deliver an assortment of autographed memorabilia, including a jersey signed by all of his teammates. The two-time World Series champion mingled with donors for about 45 minutes – staying until he was sure everyone had a chance to take a picture with him.

“This was a rare and special treat for our blood donors,” American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region CEO Jeff Meyer said. “It is nice to see a local sports star come out on his own personal time to acknowledge and support the crucial role blood donors play in the health of our community. Our sincere gratitude goes out to Mr. Casilla.”

And Casilla’s visit was just the beginning.

Just one week later, Texas Rangers stars Nelson Cruz and Leonys Martin made an appearance at the blood center while in town to face the Oakland Athletics. They also brought signed memorabilia (baseballs and a bat) and spent some time talking with platelet donors, who were very excited to meet them.

“What a surprise,” said donor Leslie Klonoff. “Hooray to Nelson Cruz for using his celebrity [status] for good things.”

Cruz plans to work with his local Red Cross Blood Services region when he returns to Texas.

Support from these players comes at a time when the Red Cross is actively recruiting blood donors from local Latino communities in an effort to maintain a diverse blood supply, which helps ensure that a wide variety of blood types are available. It is vital that the blood supply reflect the diversity of the community to best meet the needs of hospital patients. 

“Recently, we have begun to further develop our presence in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties – with an emphasis on reaching out to the Latino communities in those areas,” Meyer said. “Having these Latino baseball stars publically show support for the Red Cross will hopefully raise awareness of the importance of blood donation in those communities.”

The connection to these players came through local Red Cross employee Rafael Adames, who is originally from the Dominican Republic. Adames has been working with players to coordinate these visits.

“I’ve been friends with a lot of Dominican baseball players for years and I know how important it is culturally for them to give back to the community,” Adames said. “Inviting them to support the Red Cross to help to save lives is a perfect pitch. The players are very excited to help.”

Adames has already reached out to other popular baseball players, many of whom have also expressed an interest in donating autographed items and visiting with blood donors in the Bay Area. Check our website periodically for updates on any subsequent appearances.

All donated memorabilia will be given to local blood and platelet donors through a series of drawings this summer. Details will be announced at a later date.

Photo galleries of player visits:

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Santiago Casilla | May 7

Texas Rangers stars Nelson Cruz and Leonys Martin | May 14

Kansas City Royals shortstop Miguel Tejada | May 18

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols | July 26

Oakland Athletics infielder Alberto Callaspo | August 2

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at