HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Jordan Lyles, pitcher with the MLB Texas Rangers, recently helped his hometown of Hartsville by honoring the nighttime staff at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center with meals and making a donation to Carolina Kids.
In a phone interview on Saturday from his home in Denver, Colorado, Lyles said that about three or four weeks ago he reached out to his agent, Lee Long, about doing something to help his hometown during the COVID-19 crisis.
At first, Lyles said he wanted to do something for Hartsville High School where he graduated and played baseball and football.
Long said a week or so after Spring Training was canceled Lyles reached out to him “out of the blue” wanting to do something for the community where he grew up.
Long said he has worked with Lyles since he was 17 years old. He said Lyles is one of the most humble people he has ever worked with and no matter how far away he is from Hartsville he is always keeping up with his former Red Foxes.
Long, Hartsville High School Principal Corey Lewis and HHS baseball coach Tony Gainey discussed ways that Lyles might help the community.
Lewis said they decided upon Carolina Kids because this organization already had the structure in place to reach children with food insecurities.
Lyles made a sizable donation to Carolina Kids, Long said.
“When Mr. Long reached out to me about a possible donation from Jordan Lyles to Carolina Kids to help children during the pandemic, I was very honored,” said Andrea Pulling, director of Carolina Kids. “Jordan contacted me as well. I shared with them both how we normally take care of children in our community with a weekend food bag program, free clothing, school supplies, and field trip money.”
“I let them know the pandemic has created new challenges for us, like it has for every business, nonprofit, and family in our country,” Pulling said.
Pulling said Carolina Kids was not currently providing weekend food bags for children since the school district is providing meals. However, she said, the organization is providing boxes of food or grocery store gift cards for families and delivering them when made aware of a need.
“We are also taking care of families by helping them with needs they may not have had before the pandemic,” Pulling said. “We are asking families who have needs to make their child’s school aware. The principals know we received a donation to take care of families during COVID-19, and we are prepared to do that, thanks to Jordan Lyles.”
Pulling is also the family school facilitator at Southside Early Childhood Center in Hartsville.
“We are so grateful for Jordan Lyles’ substantial donation,” Pulling said. “We are honored he chose Carolina Kids to make sure the children in the school district where he grew up are being taken care of during these very challenging times.”
Lewis said after a conversation with someone at Carolina Pines it was decided to provide meals to the night shift because very little had been done to show appreciation to these health care workers on the front line of COVID-19.
With the help of Lewis and Gainey, Lyles was able to provide meals to the hospital staff on four nights. Lewis said Lyles really wanted to help local businesses in the process of providing box meals to frontline workers.
Lewis said they reached out to Westwood BBQ owner Robbie Parker, who agreed to deliver meals to the hospital.
“They were a big part of making this possible,” Lyles said.
Lewis said it is wonderful to witness a Hartsville High School graduate who has succeeded in his chosen profession helping the community that supported him growing up.
Lewis coached the state championship baseball team at HHS in 2007 that Lyles was a part of. Gainey was the assistant coach. Both coached Lyles when he played football at HHS.
“He has done well for himself,” Lewis said. “It is refreshing to know that he is still thinking about the people here.”
Lewis said he is a huge Atlanta Braves fan, but he keeps up with Lyles’ career and texts him at the beginning of spring training to wish him well during the season.
He said Lyles is such a “laid-back, low-key guy.”
“When he said I want to do this,” Lewis said, he was glad he could help make it possible.
About 250-260 meals were delivered to Carolina Pines for frontline workers.
“As Hartsville is my hometown, I am very humbled and grateful for the outpouring of generosity and support shown by our community and a former Red Fox baseball player, who is now a MLB pitcher, Jordan Lyles,” said Erin Matthews, respiratory therapist at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, “Our town is known for coming together in times of need and showing support unselfishly. I love Hartsville.”
Parker, owner of Westwood BBQ with his wife, Dale, said they delivered 65 meals on four occasions to the night shift at Carolina Pines.
“It was an honor,” Parker said.
He said it was great to see someone who has been gone from Hartsville for so long to think about the community, want to help and do something like this.
“It’s a great day to be a Red Fox,” Parker said.
He said he has two sons who play ball at HHS. He played as did his his father and other members of his family.
Parker said he watched Lyles play ball at HHS.
“His family eats at our restaurant,” Parker said. “They are a good family.”
Parker said he is very appreciative of the business during this difficult time. He said the restaurant has been strictly doing takeout since inside dining was closed to the public in South Carolina. He hopes to open back up this coming week.
“It has been very tough,” Parker said.
Lyles said he is appreciative of the assistance he received from Lewis, Gainey and Parker in carrying out his wishes.
Lyles said he was in spring training in Arizona until he was told to head back home. He said he has been in Denver since the middle of March.
“I’ve done my best to stay quarantined,” Lyles said.
He is ready to get back to playing baseball.
“Hopefully in the next month or two,” he said.
Lyles is entering his 10th season.
He signed “a two-year contract with the Texas Rangers in the offseason and was just getting acclimated to his new club and teammates when the entire season was put on hold," according to an article in the Morning News on March 22 by Justin Driggers.
“… It all happened pretty quickly. We were going to open the season in Seattle, and that was one of the first (high-concentration) areas of the virus at the time” Lyles said in the article.
Driggers wrote, “Lyles is hoping that the worst-case scenario doesn’t come to pass and he’s able to make his Rangers’ debut at some point this year. The right-hander had a 4.84 ERA in 141 innings last year, but he went 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA over his last 11 starts after being traded to Milwaukee from Pittsburgh.”
The Rangers are poised to unveil their new $1.2 billion home, Globe Life Field, this season in Arlington, Texas.
Lyles is the son of Jennings and Judy Lyles of Hartsville.