WMBD/WYZZ-TV - PEORIA, Ill. -- He knows that baseball season is a marathon.
That's why leadoff man Matt Szczur thinks his days as a college football player will help him in the second half of this long Chiefs season.
"For my whole life I've been playing football and baseball going into the same season," said Szczur. "It definitely helps me out. A lot of these guys had their offseason. I never experienced that. I'm used to it."
The All-Star outfielder was a star receiver and running back at Villanova but has chosen baseball for his career. His manager thinks he still has some football in him.
"He brings a hard-nosed, I'm-going-to-go-through-the-wall-for-this-fly attitude," said Chiefs manager Casey Kopitzke. "It's infectious, fun to watch. And it rubs off on the other guys."
He helped Villanova win a football national title in 2009 and was the Cubs fifth round pick in the baseball draft in 2010. His .327 batting average is second in the Midwest League at the All-Star break, trailing the .329 posted by teammate Greg Rohan.
He is strong, fast and athletic. But last May, he showed he had some heart when he helped save the life of a leukemia patient.
Szczur was made aware of a young girl needing a bone marrow transplant to live. He made the life-saving donation and missed two weeks of his senior season at Villanova which could have jeopardized his baseball draft status.
"It's exciting because I was still drafted where I was," said Szczur. "None of the scouts took it against me. The Cubs loved the character thing."
A year after his selfless act, he's a pro baseball player but awaiting word on the girl he helped.
"I know she was discharged from the hospital, she's doing better," said Szczur. "I'm still trying to met here. I haven't heard anything."