Matt Szczur is getting ready to head off to Arizona for spring training with the Chicago Cubs.
Before he goes, he’s trying to help save more lives.
That’s the idea behind a dinner that Szczur — pronounced SEE-zur — is hosting tonight at Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova. The sold-out event benefits the bone marrow charity that has long been championed by Andy Talley, Szczur’s football coach during his time at Villanova University.
“This cause has touched my life,” Szczur said. “I want to follow Coach Talley’s lead and give back.”
Szczur gained national acclaim — not that he was looking for it — when he took time off from his junior year baseball season at Villanova in 2010 to donate bone marrow that ultimately helped save the life of a young girl in Ukraine.
Szczur’s life-saving gift started with his involvement in the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation. Szczur tested as a match for the young leukemia patient in Ukraine and did not hesitate to help — even if it meant missing 10 games of the Villanova baseball season just a few weeks before the Major League Baseball draft.
An outfielder, Szczur was eventually drafted in the fifth round by the Cubs.
More importantly, the little girl in Ukraine is doing well.
It’s all part of a nice legacy for Talley, who has announced that he will retire from coaching after the 2016 season, his 32nd as Villanova’s head man.
Szczur, who hails from Erma, New Jersey and Lower Cape May Regional High School, was a two-sport star at Villanova. He was a receiver and return specialist and helped the 'Nova football team win the 2009 NCAA FCS championship. In fact, he was named Most Outstanding Player of the title game. On the diamond, he was an all-Big East selection.
Now 26, Szczur has spent the last two seasons playing in Triple A and the majors for a Cubs team that has completed its rebuild and now features one of the best and most exciting rosters in the game. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
Maybe this is the year.
“I’m excited,” Szczur said. “We’re going to be good. I’m heading to spring training next week. I’ll do whatever I can to help us win.”
That attitude clearly extends to his off-field work.
“I’m just following through on Coach Talley’s commitment,” Szczur said. “He’s in it for more than football. He sees the bigger picture. I’m just trying to carry the ball.”