Though former New York Mets starting pitcher Ron Darling enjoyed a successful 13-year professional career, his main focus these days is giving back to the community.
In addition to serving as a color commentator for TBS and SNY, since 2009 Darling has pioneered the Ron Darling Foundation (RDF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money through charitable events “to make the lives of those less fortunate a great deal better.”
For the past three years, the foundation has hosted the annual Ron Darling Golf Classic at the Pine Hollow Country Club in East Norwich. The event sold out Monday, as it has every year.
Darling, 50, had two-fold reasoning in starting the organization. The first was to show his gratitude to the New York fans.
“I played here for many years,” said Darling. “New York fans and people have been so great to me that I really wanted to give back.”
Though the Honolulu, Hawaii, native grew up in Boston, Mass., his playing and broadcasting career have made him a popular figure in New York. The foundation simply adds to his legacy.
“This is really my home,” Darling told the Press. “I feel like a New Yorker.”
Darling’s youngest son, Jordan, contracted Type I Diabetes five years ago. Not only do the charitable works of the foundation ease his son’s pain, but they also are geared toward finding a cure for the disease. RDF donates the bulk of its profits to the Diabetes Research Institute based in Miami.
The organization also supports local Little Leagues and community groups. As the RDF motto states, Darling attempts to get “real money to real people with real needs.” Though the foundation is still in its infancy, Darling has high expectations for the future.
“We’re trying to get to a point where we eliminate almost all of our costs so every single dollar we raise goes to charity,” said Darling. “We’re getting better and better at it every single year.”
While his playing career involved an All-Star appearance in 1985 and a World Series title in 1986, the leadership skills he developed has allowed him to set a positive example for those involved with his work.
“No one outworks me; no one’s more prepared,” Darling said. “That’s what I try to impart to all the people that are with this foundation. We’re going to do all the things that have to be done.”
In November, the RDF will hold a Poker Tournament in Manhattan.
Darling said that no matter how much an individual is able to donate, he would ensure that the money winds up in the hands of those who need it most.
“When this is all said and done, I want people to say, ‘Darling’s a really good ballplayer, but he’s even a better humanitarian,’” he said.