Steven Matz put his hand on Chris Hordt’s shoulder, and they both flashed smiles in the group shot featuring East Elmhurst’s Engine 316 firefighters and the guy who would’ve been a firefighter if he weren’t a flamethrower for the Mets.
The media conference room at Citi Field was filled with FDNY personnel, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. They got to meet Matz, pose for pictures with the 24-year-old Stony Brook native, grab an autograph and head to their complimentary seats to watch Mets-Reds Wednesday night. Thirty-two first responders and a guest for each were invited.
This was No. 32’s “Tru 32” ticket program that began with this game and will continue at the two Wednesday home games in May and maybe beyond. NYPD and military personnel will be among the future guests. Hordt, a 36-year-old Mets fan from Massapequa, brought his 12-year-old son, Sal, and memories of seeing Matz play for Ward Melville.
“I think it’s a great program to give back to the first responders and military,” Hordt said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to come and have a meet and greet with the Mets. I think it’s a wonderful way to honor us.”
The pitcher’s program is in partnership with the Mets, Brad Ziegler’s Pastime for Patriots and the MLBPA Players Trust. ICON Sports Management represents Matz and Ziegler, the Diamondbacks’ closer whose foundation hosts military members and their families at games. Matz wanted to do some charitable endeavors, and his agents, Rob Martin and Matt Cormier, told him about Ziegler’s program. Then Matz expanded on it.
“I just kind of bounced some ideas off them, and we decided to come up with firefighters, police and military,” he said.
Matz, who’s off to a 2-1 start, called firefighting “a really cool line of work.” He called this opportunity to do something for the FDNY and the others “awesome.”
“It really keeps him grounded and keeps his perspective the way it should be,” said Cormier, who began helping to advise Matz in 2009 when the Mets selected him in the second round. “It’s been a tremendous ascension from high school ball in Ward Melville all the way to playing for the team he grew up rooting for, and now he’s here. And being able to give back in that way I think is really important to him and his family.”
The sincerity was in Matz’s voice when he stood in front of his guests.
“A lot of people look up to us as heroes, but you guys are the true heroes,” Matz said. “You risk your life. This is just a thank you to you. I really appreciate all you do for us.”