Everlasting Glove: The Alex Bregman He Won’t Let You See
The Houston Astros' All-Star third baseman leads the league in philanthropy.
Ever since becoming the second overall MLB draft pick in 2015 (out of LSU), the Houston Astros’ third baseman, Alex Bregman, has become a two-time All-Star, a World Series Champion (2017), fashioned his own YouTube channel (with over 180,000 subscribers), and developed meme-worthy internet sensations (like his summer of ‘18 post-homer camera stare).
Bregs also won the 2018 All-Star Game MVP award (giving his Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe prize to his mother), and his brother AJ was drafted by the Astros. He once shaved his mustache between at-bats in a June 2018 home game against Kansas City…because, well, he’s fastidious…impetuously…apparently.
Bregman even struck the first-ever walk-off hit by a Jewish player in the World Series when his single to left drove home a streaking Derek Fisher in the gripping 10-inning 13-12, Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.
In the meantime, he’s also become a perennial fan favorite. While only one Houston Astro breaks the Top 20 (Jose Altuve at #19) of Most Popular MLB Player Jerseys (at least in Spring ‘21), it’s likely Bregman slots in at #2 or 3 for Astros’ jersey sales, especially when considering a certain free agent shortstop (Carlos Correa) who’s spending his early ‘22 shopping a contract that’ll keep his grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren rolling in Rolls’n’Rolexes in perpetuity.
In other words, if Houston Astros third baseman, Alex Bregman, isn’t the most entertaining player (on and off the field), it probably doesn’t take long to call the roll, to paraphrase the former Houston Oilers head coach, the late Bum Phillips.
Bregman, though, has gone largely unnoticed in his off-the-field altruism, as he may actually lead the league in selfless philanthropy. Such things most players are understandably loathe to discuss, as they prefer to help people out of range of the ubiquitously glaring Klieg lights that usually follow high-profile players.
Bregman’s ALS Star Game
In August 2018, Bregman and the Astros, both, teamed up with the ALS Association to raise money through their national online auction, with a special Bregman contribution. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig‘s disease, is a specific disease which causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles.
As described on their website, here’s what the Astros and Bregman were donating: “Bid for an ultimate experience for four at Minute Maid Park. Tickets include an exclusive pregame meet and greet with All-Star Game MVP, Alex Bregman. Capture the moment with Alex by snapping photos and taking home a signed bat.”
Other opportunities donated for public bidding were a Los Angeles Dodgers batting practice experience, a St. Louis Cardinals night out, a Tampa Bay Rays suite experience, lunch with the Milwaukee Brewers’ Craig Counsell, a Ryan Dempster batting practice, New York Yankees legends club seats, and more.
Not His First Rodeo
Bregman, to his credit, has a long history of similarly selfless acts, as do many of his fellow Astros.
In January 2018, Bregman was signing autographs at Gulf Coast Ford, according to Brazoria County’s The Facts, when the plan formed to make a donation of iPad tablets to Angleton ISD (Angleton is a Houston suburb 44 miles south of downtown).
Bregman’s planning partners that day at Gulf Coast Ford were best friend and hitting coach Jason Columbus, and Jared Koutnik, a former Yankees minor leaguer, and together they hatched the non-profit foundation called “AB for AUDS” to raise awareness and money for autism.
Albuquerque public schools logically became the first recipient of AB for AUDS’ generosity when Bregman, who grew up in that New Mexico city, donated several iPad tablets to the Petroglyph Elementary School’s autism program.
Teachers rave about the effectiveness of using iPads to help teach children with autism, saying the technology improves communication, motor, and cognitive skills.
Bregman’s donation was made in partnership with Holman’s USA, a longtime supporter of APS autism-specific classrooms, as well as the APS Education Foundation. Also receiving iPads was Griffin Elementary in Katy, Texas (a small community just west of Houston), which received seventeen of them in the fall of 2020.
The devices, which went into the school’s autism awareness program, are used primarily for social and emotional skills, the fundamental skills children need for life, according to MLB.com.
Hoping his reach will exceed his grasp in this endeavor, Bregman recently revealed this challenge: “Hopefully one day we'll be able to open up a school for kids with autism in Houston, and be able to make the biggest impact we can.”
Santa Bregs and His New “Partner in Climb”
Engaged during a January 2020 Colorado ski trip, and delayed a bit by the pandemic, Bregman married recent Texas A&M grad and former Google business developer in Austin, Ms. Reagan Howard, in early December 2020.
It was a socially-distanced backyard micro-wedding, but the groom was no less intimately involved in the event planning, telling Houston’s KPRC-TV at the time, “I’m involved in the area of saying, ‘Yes, babe, that looks great’,” according to HoustonCulturemap.com.
Having just celebrated their first-year, customary “paper anniversary,” Alex and Reagan spent mid-December 2021 at a local Houston school, doing what they do best: Giving to, and helping, others.
“So many kids either broke down in tears because of it, or they fell on the floor just overwhelmed by it.”
The couple actually handed out gift-wrapped presents to every student at Thornwood Elementary School, part of the Spring Branch ISD in northwest Houston. The school had partnered with local charity, Lily’s Toy Box, who personally wrapped and labeled each present with personalized name tags, a personal touch Alex particularly appreciated.
“Lily’s Toy Box,” according to The Houston Chronicle, was “created in 2017 by then-eight-year-old, Lily DuBose, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey after hearing about kids who had lost their toys in the storm. She started by giving away her toys and then began collecting donated toys from the community.”
Alex and Reagan read out the names of each student while distributing the presents.
“So many kids either broke down in tears because of it, or they fell on the floor just overwhelmed by it,” recounted Thornwood principal Vicki Lullo to the Chronicle. “Some of them also were even hesitant to open it; they really just wanted to really kind of savor the moment.”
“It was amazing!,” said Reagan of the day. “Seeing their excitement and their smiles was so rewarding.”
“Just to see the excitement and see the happiness around the classroom…the teachers, the kids, everyone, was just in a good Christmas spirit, a good holiday spirit,” Alex told the Chronicle, recalling the Thornwood event. “It’s a good way to go into the new year.”
The recently-formed Bregman Cares Charity “is involved in several local causes to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Autism awareness through a partnership with BlueSprig Pediatrics,” according to their website. “This year, I think we put 200 iPads in schools and programs around Houston,” Bregman told MLB.com in April 2021.
With new bride, Reagan’s help, Bregman has even expanded his charitable outreach to include the following:
After the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020, an initial donation of 1,000 quarantine food kits equating to 28,000 meals to the Houston Food Bank ballooned into the #FEEDHOU campaign, which raised $1.9 million for the Houston Food Bank to help struggling families. That’s the equivalent to nearly 5,800,000 meals.
Bregman held a 24-hour live stream event in May 2020 (since kids were shut down in front of video screens anyway), where more than 40 professional athletes, including Pete Alonso of the Mets and Christian Yelich of the Brewers, chatted with fans and donated several autographed items. The event reached more than a million people and raised nearly $60,000 for #FEEDHOU.
When a series of devastating storms ripped through southern Louisiana in the summer of 2020, Bregman went to work: He teamed with Brothers Produce to help send trucks of food to the areas that were suffering through widespread power outages and food shortages, including Baton Rouge, the home to LSU, Bregman’s alma mater.
Alex and Reagan even joined forces with the Astros Foundation, Bregman’s fellow teammates, and Brothers Produce to distribute 26,000 cases of bottled water, and 9,000 bottled gallons of water to needy Houstonians following the unprecedented and well-chronicled February 2021 winter storm that knocked out power and interrupted water supplies to millions for weeks.
In just over two years, Bregman Cares has helped to raise close to $2 million to assist those in need in the Greater Houston community and beyond.
Bar Mitzvah Donation
The Astros donated a custom black, Bregman Marucci game-used bat to the Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University in June 2018. Bregman celebrated his bar mitzvah at Albuquerque’s Congregation Albert in 2007.
Many Jewish Houstonians, still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey only a few weeks earlier (August 2017), exulted in Bregman’s memorable World Series Game 5-winning hit, and the overall contributions of a Jewish player to the Astros’ championship run.
Additionally, Alex and Reagan have donated lunches to employees at Houston Methodist Hospital, and have volunteered at the Houston Food Bank.
Bregman’s outreach efforts also include supporting autism research, youth baseball and softball, homeless relief and more. Those efforts include monetary support, surprise visits and more.
Clemente Award Nominee 2 Years Running
Bregman was named the Astros’ 2021 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s most prestigious individual honor for Major Leaguers. Bregman was also the Astros nominee in 2020.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a Major League player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Alex and His Work with Shriners
“I’ve been so lucky to witness the great things going on at Shriners Hospitals for Children, and have loved meeting all the incredible patients, families, and team members that make the hospitals so special.
“In July 2018, the Houston Astros Foundation and I had the incredible honor of hosting Yadier, a patient from the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, for our game against the Phillies, where he also got to meet MLB All-Stars Jose Altuve and Lance McCullers.
“Yadier is a 17-year-old patient who has undergone surgery and physical therapy at Shriners, and will play college baseball at Cabrini University in Radnor, PA [in 2019]. Yadier is a strong young man and meeting him inspired me to do more for Shriners Hospitals for Children.”
In His Own Words
Three weeks after helping the Astros win the 2017 World Series, Bregman told his alma mater’s LSU Sports, “I want to be remembered as a winner, a great player, a great teammate, all that stuff.
“Baseball, at the end of the day, is great and I love it and I want to be the best I can possibly be every single day,” Bregman philosophized. “Baseball will come to an end at some point, and this stuff won’t.”