Beach House Center for Recovery Pitches for Recovery with an Old Baseball ProAnna Ciulla
Former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Paul Fletcher has a story to tell. It’s one that Beach House Center for Recovery is giving him a platform to share, starting in Fletcher’s former home state of Pennsylvania, where Fletcher is raising awareness about addiction and the life-saving power of treatment and recovery.
Fletcher’s 12-year career in Major League Baseball, which he spent pitching for the Phillies, Cubs, and Blue Jays, is a draw to audiences. Already, they have:
- tuned in to hear Fletcher share on a radio show podcast about his past struggles with addiction and how he found hope and healing;
- and packed a town hall meeting where Fletcher, as a panelist, talked about addiction and substance abuse prevention.
And, on April 10, fellow baseball fans will fill the old Phillies stadium in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Fletcher once regularly played and practiced as a pro. This time the fans won’t be there just to watch the game. They’ll also get a chance to meet Fletcher at a tailgate event and get his autograph.
The event is being sponsored by the Forever Sammi Foundation—with the goal of raising awareness about the overdose epidemic in commemoration of Sammi, who died two years ago, at the age of 23, from a heroin overdose.
Ending the Stigma of Addiction – A Personal Mission for Fletcher
As a frequent guest speaker in various community venues, Fletcher talks a lot about the link between athletics and addiction and how the stigma substance abuse can keep too many people, pro sports players included, from ever getting the help they need.
“There are so many people who don’t ask for help with an addiction because of pride, shame or embarrassment, and I just let them know that people make mistakes and there’s nothing to be ashamed about,” he said.
That mission to end the stigma of addiction and encourage more people to seek treatment is very personal for Fletcher, who first fell in love with baseball at the age of seven and later went on to spend 12 years in the Major League: “I’ve spent the last five years in recovery, and now I wake up every day and feel like I’m seven playing baseball again,” he said. “Now what I do I love like my baseball.”
How Fletcher Found Recovery and a Passion and Purpose
But Fletcher is the first to tell you that getting to the space he’s in today took some hard knocks with addiction. In baseball, Fletcher didn’t just learn how to strike out batters, after all. He learned how to drink. In a sport where drinking was second nature, and where the beer keg in the clubhouse followed every game, alcohol was a staple.
That daily habit spiraled out of control when Fletcher retired from baseball, after his 1999 season pitching for the Phillies. It was then that he found himself adrift personally and professionally, unsure about what to do with the next chapter of his life when baseball had always been his first love. Drinking helped him cope, so he drank more and more, only growing more and more depressed, until one day in 2010 he tried to take his own life. That is when he knew he had to get help….
But the real turning point came “three rehabs later.” “I was able to hit my rock bottom and realize that I needed help and was either going to die or get this. And I decided to finally get this.”
Fletcher had played baseball for 12 years, then drank for the next 12 years. The shame and stigma he felt had kept him from getting help. Now he’s putting the word out that others shouldn’t have to wait that long to reach out for a helping hand. That mission to end the stigma of addiction and get more people the treatment they need is what gives Fletcher newfound joy and purpose in his role as a spokesperson for recovery in communities across Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
“I used to care what people thought about me,” he said. “I was Paul Fletcher who made it to the Major League. Then I was Paul Fletcher the alcoholic. Now I don’t care what other people think. “
For more details on Fletcher’s appearance at the April 10 Addiction/Overdose Awareness game, or to inquire about openings in Fletcher’s speaking schedule, contact him at email@example.com.