THE WASHINGTON POST
With a spreadsheet of impressive stats this season, Houston Astros star George Springer is used to making physical statements on the baseball diamond. During Tuesday night's All-Star Game in Miami, the 27-year-old decided to make some verbal ones, too. He was one of two players who agreed to wear a microphone during the game so he could be interviewed throughout the night.
This likely wasn't a big deal for Bryce Harper, the gregarious Washington Nationals who was mic'd up for the National League side, but for Springer, being mic'd up wasn't entirely natural. Springer has had a stutter all his life, which when he was younger led him to shy away from interviews. But Tuesday, he agreed to speak for the American League - and for everyone who stutters.
"I can't spread a message to kids and adults if I'm not willing to put myself out there," he told reporters after the game. "I understand I'm going to stutter. I don't care. It is what it is. It's not going to stop me from talking or having fun."
While Springer's stutter isn't immediately obvious and its far from debilitating, it did come out at times as he answered questions presented to him during the game by Fox commentators Joe Buck and John Smoltz. In one clip, Springer can be heard making extra pauses before his words or saying the opening letter of certain words twice.
There are two reasons, however, why Springer's stutter is no longer severe. The first, according to MLB.com's Richard Justice, is because Springer underwent speech therapy to learn how to control his speech patterns. The second, according to the player, is that his stutter simply becomes less severe when he's talking about baseball.
"[My college baseball coach] told me that I don't ever stutter if I'm talking about something that I like to talk about, especially if I'm talking about the game," he told Houstonia magazine last month. "The game is something that I'm comfortable with, it's something that I love."
That Springer took a chance mic'ing up Tuesday and not knowing what the result would be earned him the accolades of his peers.
"Lots of respect for that guy," his teammate Carlos Correa said (via MLB.com) after the game that saw the American League beat the National League, 2-1.
"He's conquered a lot," Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel added.
He's also become an inspiration to others, and not just because of his effort Tuesday. Since 2014, Springer has been a spokesperson for the nonprofit Stuttering Association for the Young, which seeks to build self-esteem in young adults who stutter. So far, his efforts appear to be appreciated.
Stutter or not, Astros Manager A.J. Hinch told MLB.com that Springer is "a guy you want around."
"He gets on everybody, including me," Hinch added. "He just does not have a bad day."