Steven Matz went back to his Long Island roots Thursday afternoon.
As part of his work with his charity Tru 32, the Mets lefthander and Ward Melville product met with 32 members of the Nassau County Police Department and their guests before the team wrapped up its series against the Indians at Citi Field.
It was the first time he and the organization had honored the Nassau County Police Department.
“It’s really important,” Matz said. “You’ve always got to keep your perspective in place. We’re no better than anyone else, so to come here and be with them and show my respect and how important I think what they do is, is everything for me.”
Police personnel were selected from across the county, representing everyone from officers to 911 dispatchers, and were informed that they’d be coming to Citi Field about two weeks ago. The group watched Mets batting practice from the stands before meeting with Matz, posing for photos and getting autographs.
They also stayed for the game, but for many, the opportunity to meet a hometown hero was the highlight of the day.
“He’s a local guy, so we’re all part of the same area and that’s a great feeling,” said Gaspar Arbisi, 52, who has worked in the 5th Precinct based in Elmont for 26 years. “I feel honored. Coming from someone of his fame and stature, it’s a great feeling.”
Janette Marvelli, 52, a 911 supervisor, echoed the sentiment and added that she’s always felt a particular connection to Matz. Both of her children were born at Stony Brook Hospital, the same as Matz, and her 13-year-old son Dean hopes to follow in Matz’s footsteps, setting his sights on a pro career.
“He is the biggest fan,” Marvelli said of her son. “I’m going to try and get pictures to show him and everything. I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been excited for days, like a little kid.”
She added that she’s been impressed with the work Matz has done both on and off the field, now giving back to a police department she called “the best in all of New York, possibly the country.”
“We all live for this job,” Marvelli said. “He’s a Long Island guy and we love Long Island guys because that’s what we do. We serve and protect half of Long Island.”
Matz, who has previously talked about his childhood dream of becoming a firefighter before he turned to pitching, started Tru 32 in 2016. Since then, he and the organization have worked with first-responders across the New York area and are starting scholarships for children of individuals who have died in the line of duty.
Matz said that he hopes to continue expanding Tru 32 in the future, an endeavor he takes a tremendous amount of pride in, especially when he can shine a spotlight on Long Island.
“We want to be there in support of the families and the kids,” Matz said. “We started with NYPD and NYFD, but out on Long Island, where I’m from, they play just as an important a role to keep our community safe."