Column

Editor's Desk: Ex-Northwest Herald reporter starts domestic violence awareness campaign with Cubs' saves

#pitchin4dv turns Aroldis Chapman saves into more than $20,000 for charity

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws during the seventh inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws during the seventh inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

One of my favorite things about this job is the chance to work with some extremely bright, young people who shatter false perceptions about the negative stereotypes of millennials.

Caitlin Swieca, a reporter who covered sports and news for the Northwest Herald, is certainly one of them. Besides work, Caitlin and I liked to talk baseball. While she is as passionate of a Cubs fan as I’ve met and I’m White Sox fan, I love talking baseball with real fans. And frankly, I haven’t had much to say about my Sox.

As a die-hard, Swieca, who attended a few World Series games at Wrigley Field, is no meathead fan. While she can be as irrationally paranoid as any Cubs fan, she also is thoughtful and intelligent in all things. So when her team signed closer Aroldis Chapman, whose troubling past has been well-documented, Swieca was upset.

Not upset enough to turn away from her team. That’s not terribly rational. These athletes we put on pedestals are just human beings, and like human beings everywhere, some are better than others. The key difference in Chapman is his ability to throw a baseball 105 mph.

As a knowledgeable fan, Swieca, who had just ended her employment here, probably knew that one of baseball’s top closers was one piece that made it more likely that her Cubs could win a title. But an incident that cost Chapman a suspension after he allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired several shots from a gun did not sit well with her. Chapman did apologize and denied harming the woman.

Legitimately conflicted, Swieca found an amazing way to square her fandom with her concern for domestic violence victims. And it started with a simple tweet. Swieca, a young woman early in her career as opposed to a $100 million pitcher, announced that she’d donate $10 for every Chapman save to her native Chicago’s Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.

As explained in a recent Sports Illustrated story, Swieca’s original intentions were retweeted nearly 400 times and liked 1,034 times. What began as $10 donations from one thoughtful young woman turned into a movement, #pitchin4dv, that has raised more than $20,000.

Swieca has since been featured by nearly all Chicago media outlets, The New York Times and many others.

While I had to file this column before knowing the outcome of Game 6, I do know who one big winner has been this season. And she didn’t even need an at-bat.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at kelyons@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.

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