HomeNewsPlaying ball in memory of Matthew Coll

Playing ball in memory of Matthew Coll

The Coll family
Members of the Coll family throw out the first pitches.
All baseball and softball players wore matching No. 33 shirts.
Earl Jones

Tacony Academy Charter High School and the Gift of Life Donor Program again teamed up to honor the memory of Matthew Coll.

Matthew graduated from Tacony Academy in 2018 and was a member of the baseball team.

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Sadly, Matthew died in February 2022, two weeks after being involved in a car accident at Verree Road and Bloomfield Avenue. Matthew, 22, was a passenger in a car that police said was speeding on northbound Verree when it hit another car that was traveling on southbound Verree and making a left onto Bloomfield. The driver of the car in which Matthew was a passenger was charged, but those charges were dropped. The other driver was never charged.

Matthew, who lived in Fox Chase, was an organ donor, and his kidneys and liver were donated to people in need while his lungs, brain and tissue went to research. The kidney and liver recipients are doing well.

On April 26, Tacony Academy’s baseball and softball teams played W.B. Saul at American Legion Playground, across the street from Tacony Academy. Saul won the softball game 16-10 but Tacony Academy took the baseball game 11-10.

The games took place during National Donate Life Month. Each player wore jerseys featuring No. 33 – Matthew’s number. Aztec Signs owner John Nolen donated the money for the shirts.

Members of the Coll family threw out ceremonial first pitches.

“This is what Matt would want,” his mom Colleen said of the day highlighting the need for organ donors.

Gift of Life volunteer Earl Jones, who received a heart transplant 22 years ago, set up an information table on organ and tissue donations.

“There’s a need for donations,” he said. “It takes less than a minute to register.”

On April 28, Matthew’s Gentle Giants team – 62 members strong – took part in the Gift of Life Donor Dash at the Navy Yard.

The Coll family raises money through T-shirt and bracelet sales and at an annual Phillies game, this year on Sept. 13. Funds are donated to a scholarship fund at Tacony Academy and to Gift of Life.

Tacony Academy athletic director Paul Rieser said the school promotes educational-based athletics, with players making sure home and away fields are clean when the games end. Rieser is happy to see his athletes embrace the tribute to Coll, six years after he graduated.

“They look forward to this,” he said, “and now it’s become more community oriented.” ••

Donations in Matthew’s memory can be sent to the Gift of Life Donor Program, 401 N. 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19123.

To become an organ and tissue donor, call 800-DONORS-1 or visit donors1.org/register. ••

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