PHOENIX -- Paul Goldschmidt makes a living crushing baseballs. On Tuesday, a few hours before taking the field against the Detroit Tigers, he hit the books just as hard.
Goldschmidt surprised teacher LaToya Jones, one of this month's Most Valuable Teachers, and read to her second grade class at Edison Elementary School as part of National Teacher Appreciation Day. The All-Star read a children's book that features the D-backs' first baseman and their mascot named "D. Baxter STEMs Space Invasion!"
"It was a big surprise. Wow," Jones said. "I had no idea, and I'm a little emotional right now. I didn't feel underappreciated at all. This is crazy. I'm very excited and very happy. I work with a great team of people and a lot of great teachers, support staff. The kids are the best. It makes me excited to come to work every day."
The cause is close to Goldschmidt's heart. It was his high school literature teacher who inspired his love of reading.
"We all know how important education is, especially at this young age, where the teachers are a huge influence on these kids," Goldschmidt said. "To be able to give a small 'Thank You' and come down here and meet the students and the teachers is pretty cool."
For the second year in a row, the D-backs' Most Valuable Teacher program celebrates 10 outstanding teachers each month in Arizona with a pregame acknowledgment and a $1,000 grant. Parents and students are encouraged to nominate their favorite teacher at dbacks.com/mvt.
Additionally, the club will host Teacher Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 27, with a special event package that includes a discounted Club Reserve ticket on the suite level and a D-backs Cooler Bag, courtesy of Arizona Milk Producers, loaded with back-to-school supplies. For more information, visit dbacks.com/teacher.
"The D-backs are proud to celebrate the outstanding educators that are shaping our next generation of All-Stars," said Debbie Castaldo, D-backs vice president of corporate and community impact. "Investing in teachers through our MVT program is a great way to show our support for the teachers that are champions for our children."
Jones was nominated by fellow teacher Holley Gillette. The children roared when Goldschmidt walked into the classroom. The teacher was stunned.
"I was actually sending an email to the principal about something that happened on the playground," Jones said. "So when the door opened, I thought it was him and I was like, 'Oh, he got here really fast,' and then I saw the cameras."
Count Jones as a new Goldschmidt fan. Her focus is on family and educating children, so it's understandable that she didn't recognize the first baseman when he walked through her classroom door.
"I felt like I should know him because he's really tall," Jones joked. "I'm like, 'You look important, I need to know who you are.' We won't forget now."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.