Former Steelers, Steel Valley QB Batch stays busy, joins Western Pa. hall of fame
If you there was a snapshot of Charlie Batch's career, that would've been the one — no question.
The impromptu and heartfelt embrace with injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger moments after Batch brushed aside a three-interception game against Cleveland the week prior to keep the Steelers' playoff hopes alive with an unlikely game-winning drive in Baltimore against the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens won't soon be forgotten.
Batch would never step on a field again and would retire a couple of months later.
“I had a feeling that could've been the last game I played,” Batch said. “I am out there proving to myself that I was better than what I was the week before. But thinking about it, to beat the eventual Super Bowl champs on their home field was really a cool moment for me.”
Surely, Saturday will be one of those cool moment days for Batch as well.
Batch will be inducted into the 44th class of the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Four Points Sheraton North.
It will be the third hall of fame for the 39-year-old Homestead native and Steel Valley graduate in the past four years. Batch is also in the Steel Valley and Eastern Michigan halls of fame.
“I'm humbled by it, and it's an honor, for sure,” Batch said. “To be considered, in their eyes, one of the best, is really humbling.”
Batch will join fellow Steel Valley graduate Adam Walker inducted into the 2014 class. Walker played running back at Pitt and then for five seasons in the NFL with the 49ers and Eagles.
“It's going to be a great day,” Batch said.
And a busy day, as well. Batch will give a speech at La Roche College's commencement earlier in the morning.
But Batch wouldn't have it any other way.
His Best of the Batch Foundation takes up most of his time, but Batch has his hands in just about everything.
“It was like that during football, too, but now I don't have any excuses,” Batch said.
That's just fine with Batch, especially if it is helping kids.
“To be able to make an impact on kids and be able to have support is truly a blessing,” Batch said. “I get excited (to) further my efforts beyond my foundation and further my relationship with our corporate sponsors to make our community better. That's all I am trying to do.”
Batch's foundation was started in 2000 and keeps growing. The foundation has touched more than 2,300 youths from five counties with 14 different programs highlighted by the summer basketball tournament called Project C.H.U.C.K.
But that's not all.
Batch works as a Steelers analyst on television and radio as well as doing in-studio work for NFL Network. He does color commentary for high school football and basketball games. He is the senior captain at NFLPA's The Trust, a program that helps pro players transition out of football. He is a public spokesman and a professional speaker on the behalf of more than 20 companies and universities.
The quarterback, who once handed off to Barry Sanders and threw to Hines Ward over a span of 15 years, has also performed with the Pittsburgh Opera and will be a part the musical “Seussical” at Byham Theater starting Thursday.
“It's all fun,” Batch said.
Batch was a two-year starting quarterback for the Ironmen in 1990-91 and helped Steel Valley to the No. 1 ranking and the Class AA semifinals his senior year. Batch vividly recalls a midseason game at Beth-Center his senior year.
“We were getting our butts handed to us, and we went into the fourth quarter losing, 27-7,” Batch said. “All of our fans left and they were thinking, ‘How could we lose' and, ‘We lost our No. 1 ranking' and that kind of stuff. You didn't have Twitter and stuff like that back then. You had to wait until the 11 o'clock news to find a score.”
Trailing 21-0 and then 34-21 with two minutes left, Batch led the Ironmen on an amazing comeback that included the game-winning touchdown pass to Rick Walker with 17 seconds left.
“We celebrated like crazy, and all the fans thought we lost,” Batch said. “That was probably one of the best games in the history of Steel Valley, and people still talk about today.”
Batch went on to play college at Eastern Michigan before getting drafted in the second round by the Lions. In 2002, Batch signed with his hometown Steelers.
“I thought it was going to be just for one year,” Batch said. “At that time, I was living out a childhood dream. For one year, to put on a Steelers uniform was big for me.”
One year turned into two years which turned into 11.
“Putting that uniform on week after week knowing that it wasn't given to you is something I am proud of,” Batch said. “Every year I had to earn my spot on the roster. After a while, age catches up with you, and everybody wants to kick you out of the league.”
Batch became the oldest quarterback to play for the Steelers; was the second-longest tenured at the position until Roethlisberger recently surpassed him; and became the only Pittsburgher to win two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers.
“There was no way that I ever thought that was going to happen when I came here in 2002,” Batch said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib
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