Former Kernels manager Tommy Watkins starts foundation, looks to expand

Published: May. 16, 2020 at 10:14 PM CDT
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Former Kernels manager Tommy Watkins would be giving directions to runners at first base for the Minnesota Twins right now. As many know, the baseball season is on hold because of COVID-19.

However, Watkins has kept busy while waiting for the season to start after starting his own foundation this past winter.

"When I was a player, I was always the player that wanted to do appearances and I encourage our guys to get out and give back to the community," Watkins said.

He just completed the first project of his foundation raising $5,500 to fill mobile food pantries for Community Cooperative, an organization in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida. The goal originally was to raise enough money to fill one truck, but the money will be enough to fill two of them.

"We had been trying to plan for things to try to do, but when this happened, I just started thinking, 'How can we help people that are in need right now?'" Watkins said.

But he doesn't want to stop there. His plans are to create projects in communities he either played or coached baseball, which includes Cedar Rapids. Watkins spent three years as the Kernels' hitting coach and was the manager in the 2017 season.

"A lot of these communities, especially this one, they do a lot for the players and the coaches," Watkins said. "These places have been our homes for a lot of the time we've been away from home."

Watkins has several ideas for his foundation, including baseball clinics and scholarships. His main goal is giving kids the opportunities he didn't have growing up.

"We want to mentor kids," Watkins said. "We want to start when they're young and just be able to help them throughout their childhood to graduating high school."

Watkins is entering his second season as the first base coach for the Minnesota Twins.

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