Rick’s Sports Corner: Bob Hart, Players Pay Homage To Military Veterans

Longtime Burbank baseball coach is a firm believer in teaching his players the importance of giving back without expecting anything in return.

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By Rick Assad

Fighting in a war and getting wounded and sometimes even worse, can be a harrowing ordeal.

For many of the men and women who came back to the states, it’s sometimes a really tough adjustment to return to civilian life.

All of these men and women are heroes and need to be saluted, and Burbank High’s longtime baseball coach, Bob Hart, his staff and players always do their part to make military veterans know that they are heroes.

During the course of a year, Hart and company participate in four or five events that assist and recognize servicemen and women including a pancake fundraiser in partnership with the VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] as none of the veterans paid for their meal and recently partnering with Angel City Sports for their Courage Weekend, which is the only sports event for disabled veterans and first responders on the West Coast.

“Each year we look at ways of giving back. I know veterans such as Mickey De Palo, who is a great resource. We’ve been supporting veterans for years by attending Memorial Day events, Veterans Day events,” Hart explained. “We’ve done Operation Gratitude at Harvard-Westlake [High] for an event for disabled veterans as well.”

Hart is grateful for all the helping hands he receives and knows without their assistance, these events wouldn’t be possible.

“I am facilitated with great help from our boosters this year, specifically Bridget Snyder, who has been amazing at coordinating and finding these opportunities,” he said. “Ultimately the students are always excited to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Robert Snyder is a junior pitcher and first baseman on the Bulldogs baseball team and is happy to pitch in.

Longtime Burbank High baseball coach Bob Hart and his players spend time with military veterans. (Photo courtesy Bob Hart)

“I think that volunteering goes two ways. Obviously the organizations that we volunteer for, and the people who benefit from these volunteer hours gain a lot, but I think that the act of volunteering can be very rewarding,” he said. “Work like the Veterans Breakfast and the Courage Weekend gives us an opportunity to practice our people skills and our work ethic, while also giving back to the community.”

Snyder added: “I find that this is all very rewarding, and I think that putting positivity out into the world has a way of coming back around,” he said.

What does Hart, his staff and the players receive for volunteering in this manner?

“I think we help them by recognizing their efforts and letting them know that people care and want to honor their service,” Hart said.

Hart said he wants to help out in any way possible and that many of these men and women are sometimes forgotten.

“For us, it’s not what we get but rather know what we give and part of that is a great experience for our players, to understand the importance of giving back without anything in return, as well as those who have given and protected our country,” he said.

These projects are bigger than any one person and Hart knows that any and all gestures are welcome.

“We feel collectively as though the people that put their lives on the line and sacrifice for our country are deserving of our support,” he said. “We honor them and wish to support them.” 

Dylan Robinson, a onetime Bulldog utility baseball player and football quarterback, was always ready to assist.

“When I was at BHS playing baseball, our team moms had us involved in a few different events for our veterans,” said the freshman Cal Lutheran University running back. “We would go out to Operation Gratitude where we would put together care packages for veterans and active duty soldiers. We would also attend the Veterans Day ceremonies at the McCambridge Park War Memorial.”

For Robinson, much of his involvement with military veterans reminds him of family members who served.

Bob Hart and his cadre of players receive enormous satisfaction helping military veterans. (Photo courtesy Bob Hart)

“It was always a deeply personal experience at these events as both my grandparents served in the military. One served in the Marine Corps and the other in the Army and fought in the Korean War,” he pointed out. “I had many emotions when I was at these events. There was sadness for those that sacrificed so much but also gratitude for what was given to us for their sacrifices. Also, I feel pride and admiration for my grandfathers who were part of our military.”

Former Burbank standout pitcher and first baseman Jimmy Caffery recalls with pride helping out veterans.

“Yes, we participated in Operation Gratitude, which put together care packages to send to the troops,” said the freshman Glendale College baseball player. “It is always good to give back to the people who fight for our country. We also honored the veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day at McCambridge Park.”

Recent Burbank graduate and former baseball player Dylan Kramer also took part in helping veterans.

“My freshman year we packed boxes to ship out to those at war to help them out,” recalled the Mission College baseball player. “It was organized. We’d be in charge of certain items and the boxes would be passed down a line. With all of us working together, we filled them pretty quick and got a lot sent out. It was a little tedious, but it was good fun being with my boys and helping a good cause.”

There’s no doubt that a little help goes a long way.