“You play your entire career to win a World Series, and to get that the first year in New York was something I’ll never forget.”
Mark Teixeira isn’t just another major league success story.
Teixeira has racked up four Golden Gloves, three Silver Slugger Awards and has been voted by fans to play on the American League All-Star team twice.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be voted into the All-Star team twice as a starter and that’s not easy,” he said. “First base is probably the toughest position to become a starter in the All-Star game. It just shows that your fans really care.”
After playing for the Texas Rangers, the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Teixeira was finally signed as a free agent with the Yankees in 2009. And playing for one of the best and most well known teams in baseball really lives up to all the hype.
“It’s so much grander, so much more impressive, so much more special than anywhere I’ve been, and I’ve played in some great places,” he said. “But when you come to New York and you see 27 championships, you see Monument Park and all the great players that have played there, when you [put on] the pinstripes, it’s just grander and more special than anything else.”
His wife and college sweetheart Leigh Williams played a big part in his decision to put on the iconic pinstripes.
“I had five teams that I was negotiating with all over the place, you know ‘should I go here, should I go there,’” he said. “But at the end of the day, my wife and I were at dinner, and we looked at all the different options and said, ok well if all else is equal, you know the Yankees is the team that we’d want to play for. And in the back of my mind ever since I was a rookie, I’d [thought] it would be kind of cool to play for the Yankees, because I understand how special that is.”
It seems Teixeira’s childhood dream is finally being realized. That, along with every baseball player’s dream of winning a World Series title – something he and the Yankees achieved in 2009, his first year with the team.
“You play your entire career to win a World Series, and to get that the first year in New York was something I’ll never forget,” he said.
But it’s not just his achievements on the field that make him a standout. Charity is another strong suit.
After signing his first Major League contract, Teixeira set up a scholarship in honor of his childhood friend Nick Liberatore, who died in a car accident at age 16 in 1997. In 2006, Teixeira and Williams set up the “Mark Teixeira Charitable Fund,” a $5,000 scholarship awarded to students at three Dallas-Fort Worth area Catholic high schools.
Teixeira also donated a stunning $1 million to Harlem RBI, his New York charity of choice.
“I got started with them about a year and a half ago,” he said. “When I got to New York, I was looking for different charities to be a part of. My sister said ‘You have to look at this group. It’s got baseball, education, social services’ – everything that I’m interested in. So when I met the people at Harlem RBI and I saw what they were doing, I was in. And it’s been a great thing for me.”
The mission of Harlem RBI is to provide the inner-city kids of East Harlem with opportunities to play, learn and grow – lessons most often learned through team sports, a lesson a lifetime athlete like Teixeira knows all too well.
Harlem RBI’s programs include a Rookie League community program during the summer, the REAL Kids Summer and After-School Program for developing academic success and social skills, the TeamBuilders program which focuses on teens building relationships, the TeamWorks program which prepares them for the work world and the DreamWorks Program, which focuses on SAT preparation and college visits. Other resources include the Teen Life Center, which offers counseling and social work services.