PITTSBURGH, PA - Here in the self-proclaimed city of champions, while the Penguins were on their way to winning the Stanley Cup, life went on as usual for Charlie Batch, the Pittsburgh Steelers back-up quarterback.
Batch was the starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions and has been with the Steelers since 2002. He missed all of last year's regular season after sustaining a broken clavicle in a pre-season game.
While he is back practicing with the team, Charlie hasn't stopped doing what he does best—giving back to his hometown of Homestead, Pennsylvania, a small former steel town just a few miles from the Steelers' practice field.
Here are ten things I bet you didn't know about Big Ben's back-up, what his community means to him, and what he means to his community:
1. In 2000, Charlie established the Best of the Batch Foundation to serve underprivileged youth in the Pittsburgh area.
Programs in which he takes an active role include the Toys for Tots Literacy Program, BatchPacks for Kids (supplying backpacks and school supplies to those in need), Project C.H.U.C.K. (rebuilding area playgrounds and sponsoring a summer basketball camp), and providing summer reading and tutoring programs for local children.
2. Batch was the eldest in a single-parent family and was raised by his mother Lynn Settles, who is active in all his charitable work and is easily recognizable around town by her black and gold hair.
3. In 1991, Batch led his high school football team to a state championship while quarterbacking at small Steel Valley High School during his senior year.
4. In February 1996, while Batch was playing college ball at Eastern Michigan State University, his sister Danyl Settles was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Charlie's hometown of Homestead. Danyl was believed to be mistakenly gunned down in a gang-related killing, with the bullet meant for her friend.
5. Batch sat out a year of college ball after being accidentally poisoned while working summer painting jobs, unaware that toxic materials he was using had harmed his kidneys.
6. When Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was seriously injured in an off-season motorcycle accident in 2005, Batch was the first from the Steelers organization to appear at Big Ben's hospital bedside.
7. When Batch was injured during a 2008 pre-season game resulting in what became a season-ending injury, Steelers owner Dan Rooney pulled him aside, assuring Charlie that he would always have a place in the Steelers organization.
8. Batch recently signed a one-year deal for $895,000 and a $50,000 signing bonus with the Super Bowl champion Steelers, after last year's back-up Byron Leftwich signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the hope of gaining a starting position.
9. This year, Charlie and his foundation financed a spring field trip for all the sixth graders from his high school alma mater, Steel Valley High School, to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
10. Charlie Batch has been awarded the 2006 Humanitarian and Community Award by former teammate Jerome Bettis's Bus Stops Here Foundation.
He's also been awarded the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the 2007 Boys and Girls Club Outstanding Service Award, and the Pittsburgh Pirates Community Service Award for his active participation in philanthropic and community affairs in the small town of Homestead and bigger hometown of Pittsburgh.
There is nothing unusual about a big sports town having its heroes; Pittsburgh has many—both past and present. One of those is hometown hero Charlie Batch.