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  • DAA 2020: Slugging star Hoskins puts muscle, heart into MDA

    Rhys Hoskins

    Rising Star Award

    ’15 (Business Administration)

    Major League Baseball first baseman, Philadelphia Phillies

    By Ahmed V. Ortiz

    Rhys Hoskins ’15 (Business Administration) made his Major League Baseball debut Aug. 10, 2017. He has practiced his craft at the highest professional level for barely three calendar years. So perhaps excuse him if he has a little trouble digesting receiving a 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.

    “I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my career and not yet ‘distinguished,’ ” said Hoskins, who received a Rising Star Award from the Sacramento State Alumni Association.

    “It was definitely a surprise to me.”

    Hoskins arrived in the big leagues as quite a surprise himself. After three standout seasons at Sac State, the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, and he excelled as he climbed the minor leagues.

    “Just to give them a little relief, even if it’s just for a week, we don’t take lightly.”

    Few observers expected such a thunderous start in the bigs. Hoskins almost immediately began cracking home runs at a historic pace, becoming the fastest major-leaguer (17 games) to 10 career home runs. He was named National League Rookie of the Month for August 2017 and finished that season with 18 homers in just 50 games.

    His subsequent production has been impressive: 34 home runs in 2018, and 29 the following year, when he led the league in walks. Even in 2020, when the season already shortened by COVID-19 was truncated further for Hoskins by injury, he whacked 10 home runs in 41 games and put up a .503 slugging percentage.

    But Hoskins makes his biggest difference while advocating for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He became involved with MDA while at Jesuit High School, during which time he volunteered two summers as an MDA camp counselor. After graduating, he returned as a summer camp leader.

    He and his wife, Jayme, had no personal connection to the cause, which Hoskins admits began as something of an academic obligation, but it quickly became a passion, especially the camps. Hoskins said the camps benefit the kids, of course, but also ease the load of caregivers.

    “Just to give them a little relief, even if it’s just for a week, we don’t take lightly,” he said.

    The Hoskinses, who bought a home in Philadelphia, have forged strong community alliances there in the fight against muscular dystrophy. In 2019 they hosted the annual MDA Muscle Walk and would have again this year if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Collegeville Bakery sells a “Rhys Hoskins Shake” (magic ingredient: Oreos) and donates $1 to MDA for each shake purchased, and the Hoskinses raise funds and awareness for the annual Black-N-Blue Ball, a blue-jean-and-black-tie MDA benefit gala.

    Hoskins’ off-field work grabbed his employer’s attention even before he cracked the majors. He earned the Phillies Service award in 2016 as the player with the most volunteer hours. The $1,000 award went to MDA Greater Philadelphia, where the Hoskinses look forward to putting down roots and investing their energy in their community.

    “It gives us more of a chance to give back the more that we’re here, and the more we feel like this is our home,” he said. “That was important to us.”

    Each year since 1972, the Sacramento State Alumni Association has honored accomplished alumni and friends of the University with the Distinguished Alumni Awards (DAA). This year’s honorees were recognized during a virtual ceremony on Oct. 15. For more information, visit the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Awards page. 


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