Jason Mackey: How the Steelers' signing of local QB Charlie Batch has turned into 'so much more'

Jason Mackey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Football

PITTSBURGH — When the Steelers signed Charlie Batch to a one-year contract in 2002, team president Art Rooney II insisted expectations were fairly modest.

“We thought we were getting a backup quarterback,” Rooney said. “We got so much more than that.”

Not that he needed a reminder, but if Rooney wanted to assess what Batch has become in his hometown — far beyond anything that has transpired on a football field — evidence is readily available.

Wednesday marked the official unveiling of the new Best of the Batch Foundation Clubhouse, a 33,000-square-foot campus on West Street in Batch’s native Homestead, where spread over three buildings the nonprofit can continue impacting thousands of area kids.

After taking a partial tour during Patrick Peterson’s Thanksgiving turkey giveaway event last year, I couldn’t wait to come back for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and official unveiling of the dazzling facility.

“There’s a picture over there of the house this all started in,” Rooney continued. “It’s amazing to see this today.”


“It’s been an emotional day all day,” Batch told me as things started to wind down. “When you think about getting to this point, with so many people having supported what we’re trying to do here, it’s truly humbling.”

What Charlie Batch and his wife, Latasha Wilson-Batch, have done is nothing short of incredible. Their foundation was founded in 1999, making this the 25th anniversary. They serve over 4,000 kids annually across 22 school districts in nine counties.

The Best of the Batch Foundation hands out backpacks in August and September, wraps and delivers presents around the holidays, has summer camp when school is out and punctuates that with year-long programming to not only take care of kids but help them grow.

One story that grabbed me was that of Kennedy Smith, another Homestead native who started coming here around age 3. After completing his undergrad work at La Roche University, Smith is now studying sports law and business at Arizona State, his sights set on a master’s degree and a career doing social work.


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