Charities traded with players
By LENNIE BENNETT
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 10, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- Sports trades can affect more than the team, player and family. Wealthy professional athletes are often generous donors to community causes and their departure can cause sudden voids in not-for-profit budgets.
The announcement on Monday evening that Devil Rays star pitcher Roberto Hernandez was being traded to the Kansas City Royals sent a wave of dismay through at least one local not-for-profit institution.
" "Oh, expletive' is what I said when a friend called me with the news last night," said John Erik Savitsky on Tuesday. Savitsky is director of development at Academy Prep, a small private school for disadvantaged boys and girls, and a friend of Hernandez's.
Hernandez, 36, who this year will earn $6-million, for several years has been a supporter of the school, which receives no state funding and relies on private gifts. He donated the equipment for the school's new baseball team last spring. His most recent gift was $125,000 in October.
Hernandez and his wife, Ivonne, are also major donors to Shorecrest Preparatory School, which their two children attend. The couple pledged $250,000 to its capital campaign, which is raising money for a $10.5-million expansion. The Hernandez gift will buy a new baseball field, to be named for the family.
For now at least, a new team for Hernandez will not mean a new Kansas City home for the family.
"Our plan for the moment is to stay," Hernandez said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "My kids love it here. They have a good school."
He said they will move forward on construction of a house in South Pasadena, "with the layout and everything decided before the season starts," he said.
He said he also hopes he can continue his support of Academy Prep, "even though I won't be here as much."
Of the trade, he said: "It all boils down to money. One of the things the Devil Rays harped on was I didn't do a lot of stuff in the public eye. I didn't do a lot of stuff to promote the Devil Rays. I do a lot of stuff nobody knows about. We don't look for credit."
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