SAN DIEGO—San Diego native and San Francisco Giants pitcher, Barry Zito was honored by city council Tuesday for his work to help injured members of the military.
The city council unanimously declared "Barry Zito Day" in San Diego. Zito founded "Strikeouts for Troops," a nonprofit organization designed to boost morale for injured service members.
Several wounded warriors were at the ceremony to thank Zito, including retired Staff Sergeant Chris Hill.
"Barry it is not what you gave that makes you my brother, it's that you gave that makes you my brother," the former marine said fighting back tears.
Hill and Zito met at spring training in Scottsdale two years ago and built a strong bond.
"He's been in the service for about 20 years. He's done a ton of tours out there," Zito said about Hill. "I feel honored to know a guy that has that much courage and dedication."
The pair first met when Hill was recovering from a spinal injured, suffered in Iraq, and post traumatic stress disorder. He said he didn't smile for months, until he came face to face with Zito.
"He extended his hand to all of the injured guys that were there, and said I just want to give you a token of my appreciation. He said I want you to know that you that you matter to me because what you do gives me the opportunity to live my dream," Hill explained about their first meeting.
"Strikeouts for troops" has raised nearly $2 million since its start in 2005 through contributions made by dozens of Major League Baseball players and other donations.
Zito said he was surprised to receive the honor and proud to have his wounded warrior friends by his side.
"It was great to have the marines out there with me to let everyone know they are the real heros," Zito said.
Zito graduated from the University of San Diego High School in 1996.