Says Joe Maddon: “The volunteers are the unsung heroes. Without them, none of our efforts occur.” Every month, the Respect 90 Foundation will salute a distinguished volunteer from the communities of Tampa, FL, Chicago, IL, Mesa, AZ, Southern California, or Joe’s Hometown of Hazleton, PA. Respect 90 will present a $1,000 grant to that volunteer’s charity. Should you have someone who is deserving, please let us know.
Pete Mulry | The Peter J. Mulry Foundation
Tampa’s reputation as a hotbed of amateur baseball was forged in the 60s, 70s and 80s. At the center of that growth was Pete Mulry. Right off the campus of St. Leo College, Mulry took the reins at Tampa Catholic High School and guided the Crusaders to six state finals and four state championships plus a national championship in 1973 in a 10-year span while running up a 329-39 coaching mark. He went on to coach at the University of Tampa where he laid a positive foundation for great things to come.
While he no longer wears the uniform, make no mistake, Pete Mulry, who in 2018 was named one of the 50 greatest coaches in the history of Tampa Bay, is still coaching, still mentoring.
“I’m done with the field, I guess, so I am looking for a new way. How do we get the kids? How do we help the kids?” said Mulry.
After six years at the UT and a detour in private business away from the area, Pete came back home and found that new way.
It began in early 2012, when he first organized a free city-wide baseball/softball clinic. It is now an annual event that has welcomed as many as 600 kids and their parents. The event is considered to be one of the best in Tampa Bay. “We’re teaching baseball skills and life skills to the kids and we’re talking to the parents about how to teach life skills to their kids.”
After one of those clinics, a mom stopped Pete with a question. “She said ‘Señor, what are you doing after this? This is a great day, but how are you helping us every day?’ And that stayed with me,” recalled Pete. “What was I doing to help?”
It didn’t take long for Pete to come up with a long-range, sustainable solution. “I created for each baseball position a life skill and a character and a story to go with it,” Pete says proudly. The books cover all of what Pete considers the ten essential life skills: teamwork, accountability, responsibility, making correct choices, commitment, attitude, hard work, friendship, confidence and honesty. All are core values behind Pete’s success that led to his inductions into the Hall of Fame at St. Mary’s High School, St. Leo University, Tampa Catholic High School and the Tampa Bay Sports Club.
Among his books are Cathy the Catcher’s story about accountability; Pedro the Pitcher about responsibility and Sam the Second Baseman about Commitment. And their manager is Threads and his story is the centerpiece theme: Teamwork.
One of the board members Beth Hastings Hoover of his Peter J. Mulry Foundation, a school principal, suggested they recruit a team of mentors and take the program to his school as a pilot program for students K through 3. “We weren’t sure what to expect. We thought we were going to hear crickets, but the one-on-one with the kids was fabulous,” recalls Pete. “We increased the literacy rate among those students by 10 percent.”
By 2022, they hope to have the program in four or five of schools in the Hillsborough County School system that surrounds Tampa and to introduce the program to neighboring counties.
“We have the books, we have the program, we just need to get the mentors,” says Pete, who has also connected Aces Nation, an organization dedicated to providing equal opportunity to the right tools and resources for all student athletes.
The staff of the Peter J. Mulry Foundation is dedicated to the education, training, coaching, and teaching of life skills and core values to young people. Through those efforts, they hope to increase awareness and to teach the core values we deem necessary for successful achievement.
Rick Vaughn | Executive Director, Respect 90 Foundation