The State College Spikes are asking all fans to consider sending a letter or card offering well wishes to 2008 Spikes catcher Chris Simmons, who was deployed to Iraq on November 3. Simmons, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, is currently serving as a Platoon Leader for the 1st Armor Division in Southern Iraq.
Between now and February 15th, the Spikes will collect letters and cards from fans and send those to Chris in Iraq. Letters and cards can be dropped off at the Spikes offices at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park during regular business hours or mailed to the following address:
State College Spikes
The Spikes will also collect well wishes for Chris at the club's annual SpikesFest event on Sunday, February 14 at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility. A table will be set up throughout the event where fans can drop off letters and cards and also sign a specially-made banner, which will be sent to Chris in Iraq.
Simmons, a 41st round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, made his professional debut with State College that summer, appearing in nine games. He was joined on the Spikes roster by fellow West Point cadet Cole White, who was Pittsburgh's 42nd round selection that year. Simmons and White, joined by Florida Marlins' draftee Drew Clothier, made history by becoming the first-ever trio of cadets to be selected in the same major league draft.
However, each player had his career abruptly put on hold in late July 2008, when the U.S. Army amended its policy for professional athletes, which previously had allowed cadets to delay West Point's mandatory two-year active duty commitment until the conclusion of their playing careers. Following that decision, Simmons reported immediately to duty as an aide to an officer at Fort Knox, Ky., and later to Fort Benning, Ga.
Chris grew up in San Antonio, Tx., but attended Dutchtown High School in Prairieville, La. Following graduation from high school in 2004, he entered West Point as a Systems Management major. During his four years on the diamond with the Army Black Knights, Chris posted a career .280 average, including a career-best .318 mark with nine doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 42 RBI during his senior campaign.