Playing for one of the best major league baseball teams may be a full-time job, but that doesn't stop Anthony Rizzo from making time for his dedicated fans. He's as enthusiastic about them as he is about the game. We caught up with the two-time All-Star to discuss his love of the sport, his battle with cancer, and why his fans are some of the most important players in his life.
A positive attitude can go a very long way.
What is your earliest memory of attending a baseball game?
I remember my dad taking me to a Florida vs. Atlanta game and we sat behind the Florida dugout. When Chipper Jones walked by, I yelled, "Hey, Larry" [Jones' given name, which the Atlanta third baseman famously despised being called].
What made you decide to pursue a career as a professional baseball player?
I've always loved this game more than any other sport, and like most young players, my dream was to play in the big leagues.
What are some of your favorite game-day traditions?
The singing of the national anthem. It always helps me appreciate where I am in life and how I can play the game I love as a career.
Shortly after going pro, while your grandmother was battling breast cancer, you were diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. How did you manage your illness and overcome it?
I took the advice that my teammate, who was treated for a similar type of cancer, gave me when I was in Boston for my first treatment: to live life as normally as possible on all of the days that I felt good. I tried to stay positive at all times. My family was so important to me during that time — I knew they were battling with me and that together we were fighting the cancer.
Drawing from your experience, what advice can you to give to others who are going through a challenging time in their lives?
I think anyone who is going through a difficult time — whether it's with their health or anything else — should remain as positive as possible and have faith that they can overcome the problem. A positive attitude can go a very long way.
Tell us more about your foundation. How does it help children and their families battling cancer?
When I was sick, my family and I decided that if I ever made it to the big leagues, we would start a foundation to help other families battling cancer. We have come so far in a very short time. Recently, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation held its Fourth Annual Cook-Off for Cancer, and we raised $630,000 at that event alone.
We use the money we raise to help support research and provide assistance to families and children battling cancer, and the feedback we get from them is amazing. Everyone always expresses their appreciation, which lets me know that all of our hard work is paying off.
What made you want to get involved with ProCamps?
When my agent was approached by ProCamps, he did a bunch of research on the organization. It has a great reputation, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to work directly with kids in Chicago and to spend the day playing baseball in a casual atmosphere. The camp format was a perfect way to do it, and ProCamps was the right fit. I just really want the kids to remember that playing baseball should always be fun!
Besides ProCamps, how else do you connect with your fans?
I'm pretty active on social media, which is a lot of fun. People feel good when they get to see the "real" Anthony and not just the baseball player Anthony Rizzo. I really appreciate how the Chicago fans treat me when they see me around town. They are always very respectful and friendly — Chicago has the best fans in the world!
ProCamps are just one way Citi offers cardmembers access to some of their favorite athletes by offering registration at a preferred price. For more information on upcoming sports events in your area, visit https://www.citiprivatepass.com/sports.html.