Major League – MARK TEIXEIRA

But Teixeira didn’t just write a check. He puts in the hours with Harlem RBI, attending meetings with potential donors and participating in public events to benefit the students.

“I love being able to give kids opportunities,” he said. “Whether that’s at a very young age, just being able to be a part of the team, learning how to read, how to study, to have social skills in and out of the classroom, that’s very important. And then as kids get older, having the chance to go to college. We give college scholarships; we really do a lot of tutoring to help kids prepare for college. So these all give kids opportunities, the same opportunities I had as a kid.”

Teixeira is working to raise $20 million for a new Harlem RBI building. The facility will include a charter school, the new headquarters and low-income housing, as well as a community center. Since the onset of this project, about $12 million has been raised – $1 million of which Teixeira donated himself and another $5 million from donations Teixeira secured.

While Teixeira isn’t a good old southern boy, he may as well be. The starting first baseman for the Yankees played for three years at Georgia Tech and now has the southern manners to show for it. He opens doors, is easygoing and unfailingly polite. And he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, endowing an annual scholarship at his alma mater.

“I never want the funding to run out at that school,” Teixeira said. “I’ve seen a lot of baseball programs have to get cut because of state budgets, city budgets, university budgets, and our goal is to never lose that program.”

It’s also worth mentioning that he didn’t forgo college in lieu of the glitz and money that comes with signing into the Majors straight out of high school, passing up the chance to play for the Boston Red Sox in order to attend college.

“I definitely would tell kids to go to college,” he said. “My three years in college was the best experience of my life. I really wasn’t ready to be a professional athlete at 18. But I would tell everyone, every high school kid, that you can never get those college years back. You can go back to college when you’re older if baseball doesn’t work out, but you’ll never be 18-21 living it up with all your friends on a college campus.”

It seems with the scholarship, Teixeira is looking to give someone else the start he had.

“I think baseball is just a tool,” he said of the sports relations to Harlem RBI and even life in general. “It’s something fun that kids can do, especially with Harlem RBI, when you bring a kid in and say ‘Hey let’s play baseball and let’s have fun.’ But then you say, ‘Ok well the real reason you’re here is for your education, for social skills, to stay off drugs and alcohol.’”

If Teixeira seems remarkably down to earth, it’s because he is. He and Williams live with their three children in a palatial mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut with a sloping green backyard bordered with trees. The home, while grand, is littered with children’s toys and looks cozy and lived-in. Of course, Teixeira doesn’t forgo all things haute –a simple Longines watch adorns his arm and custom Yankees carpet adorns the floor in his personal gym.

Teixeira’s office is wholeheartedly dedicated to the Yankees – a  plush pin-striped chair sits behind the desk, a photo of the team celebrating after their 2009 World Series win holds court above the leather couch. The bookcase is lined with books on legends like Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and the late George Steinbrenner.

“He is iconic,” Teixeira says of the former Yankees owner. “He’s the greatest owner in sports history. He built a modern-day sports empire. The Yankees are the model for Americans in pro sports, and almost all the credit goes to George Steinbrenner.”

And he has nothing but good things to say about his current team.

“A lot of people think because of our payroll, because we’re in New York City, they assume we’re very uptight, they assume we’re very almost robotic, but this is one of the most fun teams I’ve ever been on,” he said. “We have a lot of jokesters on the team, we’re constantly getting on each other, we’re having fun – when you win it’s easy to have fun. And when you win here in New York there is nothing better than the energy in that stadium, the energy when you go out in the city, or anywhere around New York because everyone loves the Yankees.”