From Phillies hero to championing muscular dystrophy awareness, Rhys Hoskins’ journey is one of heart, home runs

Rhys (middle) and Jayme Hoskins (left), known for their philanthropic efforts, host a muscular dystrophy fundraiser event in Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies)

PHOENIX – In 2017, Rhys Hoskins made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies, and over the next six seasons, he became a fixture as the team’s first baseman. He served as the organization’s bridge from an 11-year postseason drought to achieving long-awaited playoff success in 2022. Just three months ago, he signed a two-year, $34 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, leaving Philly fans who had grown attached to his dedication and personality distraught.

Before all that, however, he was just a student at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California who had to earn 50 community service hours to graduate. He signed up to be a camp counselor at a nearby summer camp run by the Muscular Dystrophy Association to meet the requirement, but what began as an obligation in the eyes of a teenager became so much more.

“I was assigned a camper that I was there to help with (his) care, but also to show him what summer camp is like,” Hoskins said. “And I just fell in love with the community that was there to bring some sort of normalcy to these kids’ lives, but also give a chance for caregivers and parents to have a break. It’s a full-time job, with these kids that are living with these neuromuscular diseases, full-time job for caregivers.”

The next year, Hoskins returned to MDA summer camp in Pollock Pines, California on his own accord and invited Jayme, his then-girlfriend who would become his wife. Both of them have remained involved ever since 2009.

Rhys Hoskins rounds the bases during his first Spring Training with the Brewers. (Photo by Ethan Briggs/Cronkite News)

Rhys Hoskins rounds the bases during his first Spring Training with the Brewers. (Photo by Ethan Briggs/Cronkite News)

“It’s been a cool journey,” Hoskins said. “We’re lucky that we don’t have anybody in our immediate family that’s affected by these diseases, but seeing the raw joy that some of these kids have by going to summer camp was really cool.”

Hoskins, drafted out of Sacramento State by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, worked his way through the minors and earned his major league call-up on August 10, 2017. Coincidentally, the day before, MLB and the MLBPA announced plans for a newly created Players Weekend that would take place August 25-27. Players could customize their jerseys with nicknames and wear a T-shirt highlighting the charity of their choice during batting practice.

That’s when Amanda Sweet, current account director of signature events at MDA and former director of the Philadelphia MDA office, first got in contact with Hoskins after the Phillies called to ask her if they could get their recent call-up an MDA shirt to wear for the special weekend. Sweet gave the shirt to Hoskins in person and met him and Jayme, who told her they had been camp counselors in 2010 and had renewed their connection with MDA when Hoskins played ball at Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier that season.

Shortly after, Sweet met with Sophie Riegel, director of player relations and Phillies Charities, who told her there was something special about Rhys and Jayme.

“Right away, (Rhys and Jayme) said, ‘Connecting with the community and connecting with MDA is what’s really important to us.’ And they didn’t just say it, they did it,” Sweet said. “I think that’s what really set them apart, too. It wasn’t for anything other than the right reasons to be involved with the charity.”

Rhys and Jayme made a point to establish themselves in Philadelphia, but they placed a special focus on being part of the Philadelphia MDA community. MDA, which began in 1950 as a group of individuals invested in fundraising for muscular dystrophy treatments and cures, is now the largest source of funding for neuromuscular disease research outside of the federal government itself. The Hoskins got involved as soon as possible and started to organize events for MDA families in the Philly area, including hosting Phillies tailgates for around 300 local MDA families. “Some people got to come do a little meet and greet with Rhys and Jayme, come on the field, watch batting practice, and then the Phillies were really generous with a ton of tickets and handicap accessible tickets,” Sweet said about the numerous tailgates hosted by the Hoskins. “I think it was just really impactful for the families that they were treated to that.”

Among the people the Hoskins impacted was Courtney Sochacki, whose 11-year-old son, Sawyer, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy that same year. Sochacki involved
herself in fundraising for MDA, and coincidentally, her first MDA gala was also Rhys and Jayme’s first.

“It wasn’t until Rhys and Jayme got to Philly that it gave the MDA a new popularity,” Sochacki said. “They both truly care about all the children and families affected by Muscular Dystrophy, and it truly shows with all the effort, love and generosity they give to the organization. As an avid Phillies fan, I was bummed to hear of Rhys leaving, but I was even sadder because I know MDA Philly will never be the same without them.

“I truly hope our paths cross again and we can continue to raise money for the MDA.” In Philadelphia, Rhys and Jayme attached their names to MDA events, and eventually, they
graduated to hosting their own. “Go Yard with Rhys Hoskins,” an MDA fundraiser hosted at Yards Brewery in Philadelphia, premiered in 2022 and returned in 2023, despite an ACL tear taking Rhys out of action that season.

Jayme (middle) and Rhys Hoskins (right) share a moment with young campers at the second annual “Go Yard with Rhys Hoskins” fundraiser for muscular dystrophy awareness on June 29, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies)

Jayme (middle) and Rhys Hoskins (right) share a moment with young campers at the second annual “Go Yard with Rhys Hoskins” fundraiser for muscular dystrophy awareness on June 29, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies)

That ACL tear in spring training ended his 2023 contract year a mere week before the regular season began. Two-time NL MVP Bryce Harper moved to first base in his absence, and when Harper decided to remain at that position for the foreseeable future, there was no longer a spot in the Phillies’ lineup for Hoskins.

“It speaks so much to him and his character that, even after dealing with tearing his ACL in a terrible time in his career for that to happen, he stayed the course of supporting MDA and had this $400,000 event for MDA, even though he’s hurt and dealing with adversity,” Sweet said. “I think that’s something that resonates with our families, too, as they deal with adversity. They just keep moving forward and propelling forward, and keep their eye on the prize and prioritize the right things. And clearly Rhys has always done that, and I’m sure (he) will continue to do that.”

Consider that a promise the Hoskins intend to keep. “To be able to have two cracks at having our own event is pretty cool,” Rhys said, reflecting on his efforts. “We ended up raising over 400 grand one year and sending multiple kids to camp, which, again, that’s how we started with all this.”

Sweet estimated that through being involved with walks, local galas, half marathons, auction items that included dog playdates and playing golf with Rhys, and of course the “Go Yard” fundraisers, the Hoskins raised about a $1 million for MDA in six baseball seasons while playing for the Phillies.

“Jayme was involved in every aspect of planning and coordinating and executing (“Go Yard”) with me on the MDA side,” Sweet said. “She and I would go to spring training and talk to a lot of the potential sponsors, and she’s a very charming and influential person in her own right. So having her do that, I give her a lot of credit for the success of that event, including not just kind of showing up and welcoming people, but again, the behind-the-scenes: planning, logistics, cultivating sponsors, getting auction items, Jayme was a huge, huge, huge part of the success of that event.”

While the event was officially named “Go Yard with Rhys Hoskins,” it was hosted by Rhys and Jayme. All of the other MDA events the couple hosted followed the same trend. Jayme’s name always appears next to Rhys’s, uncommon for MLB stars.

“I mean, she’s as much a part of trying to make an impact with your community, a city, a certain charity, as I am,” Hoskins said. “You see (the players) on TV. We get to wear a jersey with our name on the back. But at the end of the day, it’s just about making an impact on someone’s life, regardless of who you are. And we like to do that because we have a nice platform to do that. But I think it also makes us a little bit more relatable when you have your whole family there to help. She’s also pretty personable. Lights up a room when she walks in, so that’s easy for kids to be around as well.”

Rhys and Jayme’s unique approach doesn’t go unnoticed by those around them.

“They’re a really wonderful couple. And they would hate to have me use the term power couple, but Rhys just respects Jayme’s opinion so much,” Sweet added. “It’s something nice that they’re able to do together. And they’re both equally loved. Of course, especially kids and everybody loves Rhys. He’s the baseball star. But Jayme has gotten to be pretty popular in her own right too, with our MDA community, which is really great.”

Rhys played for the Phillies organization his first 10 years before signing with the Brewers this offseason, beginning a new adventure in the Midwest, where Milwaukee’s MDA community anticipated his arrival, according to Sweet.

“My colleague who lives in Milwaukee called and was like, ‘All these MDA families are calling as soon as Rhys (signed with) the Brewers, they’re so excited, (they’re asking) can we have a welcome party? How can we welcome him to Milwaukee?’ So it’s really great,” Sweet said. “I think he’s going to be thrilled with the MDA community in Milwaukee, and vice versa. They’re so excited to have them come.”

Rhys and Jayme Hoskins reinforcing their commitment to making a difference beyond the baseball diamond in Philadelphia and Milwaukee. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies)

Rhys and Jayme Hoskins reinforcing their commitment to making a difference beyond the baseball diamond in Philadelphia and Milwaukee. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies)

The excitement is mutual. Hoskins plans to get involved with the Milwaukee MDA community as soon as possible, saying he and Jayme already have “many ideas that we’re excited to share with them.”

Hoskins played college ball in his hometown of Sacramento, and during his time with the Phillies, he and Jayme lived in Philadelphia even during the offseason. Home is a concept that has always been a priority for the new Brewer. He’s still figuring out what that will look like in Milwaukee, but connecting with the MDA community there will certainly provide a good starting point.

“We’re trying to find a home. Haven’t found one there yet,” Hoskins said during spring training. “But I think home is in the people. So just doing as much as we can to create those relationships. They take time, and you have to foster them, and love them, and nurture them.

But just doing what we can to try to make as many great relationships, I think, is going to allow us to feel like we’re at home. And if we’re here a long time, then staying in the offseason is something that we’ve obviously loved to do in the past. Wouldn’t put it past us.” As Hoskins embarks on a new chapter in Milwaukee, he’ll meet and work with a new group of MDA families in the region while maintaining the relationships he built through MDA in Philadelphia.

“As all of us in Philadelphia have said, Milwaukee got a huge star, winner, great person, great couple with a ton of integrity,” Sweet said. “That would be the message I would pass along (to Milwaukee). It’s so impressive that he’s just continued to power through some adversity that he’s seen in our community.

“Nobody knows how to do that quite like the muscular dystrophy community.”

Grace Del Pizzo(she/her/hers)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Grace Del Pizzo expects to graduate in May 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in music theater. Del Pizzo has interned with SABR and Crossing Broad and is program director at Blaze Radio.