“Just to experience something like that to help save a life, I’d do it every day of the week,” he said.
The side effects were minimal. He had an enlarged spleen because of the drug, and was achy and drowsy once his donation was over.
He returned to the baseball team, hit .443 as Villanova’s first .400 hitter since 1997 and was a first-team All-Big East selection. Sitting out games didn’t impact his draft stock as much as wanting to play football.
The Chicago Cubs took him in the fifth round (he was selected in the 38th round by the Dodgers out of high school) and Szczur went on a 21-game hit streak spread over various stops in the organization.
“It was awesome just to wake up every morning and just have to worry about baseball,” he said.
He wore his national championship ring on a visit to Wrigley Field, where he took batting practice and shook hands with the Cubs on a clubhouse tour. He met since-retired manager Lou Piniella and sat in seats three rows off the field.
It was a highlight of his life.
It was as close as he might get again to hitting in a big-league ballpark.
Szczur has been projected as a mid-round NFL draft pick and he’s seriously leaning toward quitting baseball. He has to let the Cubs know his decision by early February if he wants to collect the rest of a reported $500,000 contract.
Szczur believes he can play faster and make more money in the NFL. When he singled in his last minor-league at-bat, with his parents in the stands, Szczur knew that was likely the last time he would swing a bat in a game that counts.
“We want him refreshed for the season,” Talley said.
Szczur’s first major purchase with his baseball money was a necklace for his friend who’s been in remission for five years. He bought it at Tiffany’s and there was a dove on the chain that represented faith.
Szczur hopes to deliver a similar, appropriate gift for the girl and her family should they meet next May.
He already gave her the biggest gift of all.