KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Being a baseball player trying to make it to the big leagues can bring its challenges.
However, a special program with the Kansas City T-bones hopes to make things a bit easier for those on the team.
The Host Family program helps coordinate housing for players and matches them with families across the metro area.
Cheryl Reitmeyer has been a volunteer for the program for six years and now serves as director.
On Thursday, she told 41 Action News that being a part of the group has been a rewarding experience.
“I love the game and I love the T-bones,” she explained. “Their salaries aren’t what they are when they’re in affiliate ball so that is why they need host families.”
Reitmeyer and other volunteers offer the players home-cooked meals, private rooms to sleep in, and a place to call home during the season.
“When they’re out of town on the road trips that’s when I go up and freshen up their rooms,” she explained. “We give them a key and say, ‘Just be quiet and let us know if you’re not coming home.’”
As a result of being in the program, Reitmeyer has developed close connections with players.
This season, 25-year-old pitcher Julio Eusebio is staying at her home.
“She’s always there for me if I ever need her without me ever asking her. She’s like a mother figure now,” said Eusebio, who is originally from New York City. “I come out of the ballpark and there’s always dinner here for me. Sometimes it’s even better than being home.”
Eusebio continues to fight to one day make it back on a Major League Baseball team after being cut by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He said having a host family helped him transition to playing on the T-bones.
“The biggest part of it is just being away from home and being away from your family,” he explained. “She (Cheryl) is like a mother figure to me now. She’s always there looking out for me.”
Reitmeyer often joins other host families at T-bones Stadium to cheer on the players.
Over the years, she said the connections she has made have gone beyond the ballpark.
“When they get traded or released, we’re the ones they come home to with tears in their eyes,” Reitmeyer explained. “I’m the one to give them a hug and tell them it’s going to be okay, God’s got another door to open for you.”
After making special bonds and connections with the players, Cheryl described her time with the Host Family program as a special experience.
“We just make good relationships and it’s something you would ever do if you didn’t open your doors for the ballplayers,’ she explained.
Currently, 15 families are a part of the Host Family program.
For more information on being a volunteer with the group, call the T-bones front office at (913) 328-2255.