BRADENTON, Fla. (FOX 13) - On stage, he's a country music megastar, but for the next week and a half Garth Brooks is trading in his cowboy hat for a baseball hat. He's practicing with the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton as they gear up for spring training.
"This is any guys dream right here to get out and play," Brooks told FOX 13.
While he was born in Oklahoma, he says the Pirates are his favorite.
"This is my team. I grew up with this team. Roberto Clemente that was my guy. I had his poster on my wall. The day that he died, I promised him that I would do something with baseball and kids like he traded his life for. This came late in my life," said Brooks.
That promise as a young kid to his baseball idol turned into a worldwide charity with Teammates for Kids.
"We started with a little over 30 major leaguers. Then we had one from every team. Then here comes the NHL the NFL, NBA, major league soccer, PGA, rodeo. They all kind of chipped in. Now 4,000 athletes strong we are hopefully just doing things for kids all across the globe,” said Brooks.
Brooks has helped raise $100-million for kids. His stint with the Pirates helps mark the 20th anniversary of the foundation.
"It's all about helping kids because you know they’re our future. The greatest invention god ever created was children. I really like spending my days doing this," said Brooks.
As he draws crowds to practice, he stops to make time for his fans and reflects on what he is doing.
"When you think about it what’s the greatest gift you could give anybody? Just to let be themselves and let them be OK," he said.
Garth Brooks will be practicing at Pirate City until Thursday, February 21. For more information on Teammates for Kids, visit https://www.teammatesforkids.com/.