Holt heavily involved in children's charities

Holt heavily involved in children's charities

BOSTON -- Brock Holt's uncanny versatility on the field allows him to play seven different positions and led to him being an American League All-Star in 2015. As it turns out, Holt is also a super-utility man for the Red Sox off the field, doing anything he can to help out in the community and put smiles on the faces of children.

"I'll be honest," said Red Sox director of community and player relations Sarah Narracci. "He was my go-to guy this year in terms of everything. He never says no. He enjoys it."

Last March, during Spring Training, Holt met a Jimmy Fund patient named Madison LeClair. They had such a natural rapport that Holt had no problem swapping phone numbers with "Maddie."

When LeClair -- who lives in East Freetown, Mass. -- returned to Fenway for a Red Sox game in August, Holt was one of the first players to greet her. LeClair felt comfortable enough with Holt to give him a hard time about never calling her.

"I lost your number," Holt told her.

After collecting the number again, Holt this time put it in his locker for safe keeping.

About a month later, LeClair's father, Steve, informed the Red Sox that she was undergoing surgery to remove cancer that had spread to her lungs. Trying to be low-key about it, Steve LeClair said, "I know Maddie formed a nice connection with Brock. It would be great if he could send her a text or something. But I know these guys probably get requests like this a lot."

Holt never blinked. Instead, he swooped into action.

• Holt's charitable efforts

"Do you still have her number?" Narracci asked Holt. "He said, 'Oh, I'm definitely going to shoot her a text.' He had the number in his locker."

Instead of just sending an obligatory text wishing the 14-year-old Maddie well, Holt engaged in a conversation that is symbolic of this age of social media.

"Then he was texting her back and forth and tweeting back and forth, and believe me, you have no idea what that meant to her," said Steve LeClair. "He tweeted to her, she tweeted back, and she asked if he could retweet it out. It was just unbelievable. If I ever get the opportunity to meet him, I would really like to thank him. It really meant a lot and got her spirits up."

And every time a doctor or nurse came to Maddie's hospital room, she never tired of bragging about her exchanges with Holt.

"It was unreal," said LeClair. "It really was."

Holt had started to involve himself in community endeavors in 2014 -- his first full season with the Red Sox. But he took it to another level when the team asked him to be a Jimmy Fund co-captain, along with Pablo Sandoval, last season.

"The Jimmy Fund holds a special place in my heart, even though I've only been here for a couple of years," said Holt. "The most amazing thing is that you go in there and they're living their lives like normal. Their situation is just different in that they have to get treatment on their cancer. They are some of the strongest kids around, parents as well. I can't even imagine what it would be like as a parent to see your kid go through that. To walk in there and to see how strong those kids are, and how happy they are, it puts things in perspective, and I'm happy to know all the kids I've been fortunate to meet."

It is the personal touch that Holt displays that allows him to make such a difference in his charitable endeavors.

"He's always the first one to greet the kids when they come to the ballpark. We have the kids in Spring Training, we have them here during the season, and he's the first one out there and he spends the most time with the kids," said Narracci. "He just really likes to interact with them. He treats them like regular kids and not like they're sick kids. A lot of guys can't do it, but he can.

"In terms of the Jimmy Fund, he's just a natural with the kids. Taking him to the clinic and seeing him with the kids is amazing. He spends time painting and playing with stuffed animals, and it's not a quick, five-minute thing. He would spend 20 minutes in a room with a child."

If the Jimmy Fund is the area Holt spends the most time with in terms of charity, it isn't the only one.

"He's been supportive of the Red Sox Foundation and all their programs. Brock's wife, Lakyn, did the Run to Home Base this year, and Brock got up early that morning and came to support her and the program," Narracci said. "This year we had a great kids initiative. He's been great with that. He spoke to kids at numerous events this season."

To Holt, being so involved is a no-brainer.

"As baseball players, we want to come to the field every day and do our best and play as good as we can possibly play and win every game," Holt said. "But at the end of the day, winning a baseball game isn't what's most important, or getting three hits. There's so many other things in life that are a whole lot more meaningful."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.