Big leaguers trade bats for bass to benefit kids

During the two-day event on Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas, Hawkins, four buddies and five bass pros managed to raise $50,000.

Alton Jones and LaTroy Hawkins
Alton Jones and LaTroy Hawkins with a fan.

Astros pitcher LaTroy Hawkins recently hosted his second charity event to benefit LifeLine Youth and Family Services. During the two-day event on Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas, Hawkins, four buddies and five bass pros managed to raise $50,000.

Hawkins got the idea after attending several charity fishing events hosted by Bassmaster Elite Series pro Alton Jones in Palestine, Texas. Jones' event offers bidders the chance to fish with professional baseball players as well as professional anglers on a private lake in east Texas. Jones' events also benefit LifeLine, which gives kids a chance to get back on their feet after being abused, neglected or making bad choices. After becoming acquainted with LifeLine's programs, Hawkins talked with Jones and LifeLine director Mark Terrell and offered to hold a fishing event of his own, "Hawk's Big League Bass Classic."

"The first year I had nine ball players, but after thinking about it, I wanted to give the chance to people who work every day," Hawkins said. "So I got four of my friends, five bass guys and we got five average Joes to hang out.

"I didn't want to intrude on Alton's event in Palestine, so he suggested we go to Lake Amistad, and it turned out to be a great idea," he said. "We have a lot of fun, learn a lot about each other, and the fact that LifeLine benefits is the best part."

The pros who attended were Matt Reed, Fred Roumbanis, Alton Jones, Gary Klein and Zell Rowland. Every one except Roumbanis hail from Texas, and all fish in the Bassmaster Elite Series. One of the five spots for average Joes was donated by Hawkins to Veteran Outdoors, a charity organization that offers wounded soldiers hunting and fishing trips. The other four were sold.

Hawkins' love of fishing and kids prompted him build a pond in his front yard where his daughter can usually be found, rod in hand.

"Every kid deserves a second chance; I have a soft spot in my heart for them," he said. "This was such a great event, I can't wait until next year."

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