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Markakis goes to bat for Maryland kids

Markakis goes to bat for Maryland kids

BALTIMORE -- It didn't take the birth of Nick Markakis' first son, Taylor, to realize his love for children. But for the Orioles outfielder, it may have been the deciding factor to give something back.

Less than three months after the birth of his first child, Markakis and his wife, Christina, announced Tuesday the formation of The Right Side Foundation, a not-for-profit organization aimed at improving the lives of distressed children throughout the state of Maryland.

"We love children," Christina Markakis said. "Taylor, our first son, has just shown us so much of what children bring to your life, and this is a great way to really reach out to our future leaders."

So far, the couple has announced two of the organization's initial programs. The first, called "Fun for 21," gives 21 kids from Maryland the opportunity to attend an Orioles game from the Markakis suite. Fittingly, the No. 21 comes from Markakis' jersey number.

The Markakises also plan to host a 5K Run/One Mile Fun Walk following the Orioles game on August 16. The event will take place at Patterson Park in Baltimore and include family activities and the chance to meet Markakis.

The couple insisted that despite Markakis' time constraints with the Orioles, he will be as involved as he can and plans to compete in the upcoming 5K race.

"I'll be competing," Markakis said with a chuckle. "I'll be right there with them, just not sure how many we're going to do, but it's going to be fun, and I can't wait."

For Markakis, the foundation is a way to reach out to the children across Maryland and give back to a community that has embraced the rising star.

"I always said I couldn't wait to have a kid," Markakis said, "and now that he's here, we want to do so much and get as involved as we can. It's important for me to lead by example on the field, which I try to do every day I go out there, and once the game is over, you want to be able to go out there and help people off the field, as well."

So far this season, the right fielder is playing like a leader on the field. Going into Tuesday's game, Markakis, in his fourth season with the Orioles, is batting .303, leads the team with 38 RBIs and is second on the team with 54 hits.

A group of kids from New Pathways Inc., a foundation providing counseling, independent living and developmental opportunities for Maryland youth emerging from foster care systems, is watching Tuesday night's game from the Markakis suite.

Along with the announcement of The Right Side Foundation, the Markakises also said they plan to spend this offseason in their home state of Georgia, then make the move to Maryland, where they hope to raise their family.

"We were very lucky that the Orioles had drafted me, and I signed a long-term deal," Markakis said. "I'm lucky to be in Baltimore. I could've been somewhere else in another city that I'd be miserable in, but this city is a great city, and we love it here, and we love where we live. Everybody treats us right, and it's an awesome place."

Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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