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Original Issue

Life Saver

Matt Szczur's biggest play came off the field

On June 8 Matt Szczur was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round. That may have been only the third-most-important development of his spring. Playing rightfield for Villanova, Szczur led the Big East in batting with a .443 average. He did miss 10 games—and he'd rather talk about the reason than about his gaudy stats.

When he was found to have a matching blood type, Szczur (pronounced SEE-zer) donated stem cells to a 19-month-old leukemia patient he had never met. The procedure sidelined him in late April and early May. (His best friend is battling the same illness.) "Anybody can go out there and play football or baseball," Szczur says, "but there's not too many people who get a chance to save a life."

Szczur's next decision is not exactly life or death, but it's intriguing nonetheless. Last fall he was an All-America wide receiver for the Division I-AA champion Wildcats. Does he sign with the Cubs or return to school to play another season on the gridiron? Chicago scouting director Tim Wilken sees character as an essential part of Szczur's package. "In preparation to get him on the field it weighs very heavily," Wilken says. Szczur is confident in whichever path he chooses. "I want to act in the present and look at the future," he says, "but there are things I've accomplished and I'm ready to accomplish more."



BATTY NUMBERS Speed demon Szczur led the Wildcats in eight offensive categories.