There is little evidence inside Chris Resop’s Naples home of his 14-year professional baseball career. There’s no dedicated man cave or walls lined with memorabilia and trophies. In fact, all of the former player’s jerseys from when he pitched for the Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics are hanging in a closet.
But there is one award that’s discreetly on display. It’s a thick, glass rectangular etching that sits atop a heavy black base, carved with his name alongside another baseball luminary, an honor that Chris calls “One of my greatest accomplishments.”
It’s called the Roberto Clemente Award. Each year, a panel of baseball dignitaries selects a nominee from every Major League Baseball (MLB) team to receive the prestigious honor, which is given to the person who best exemplifies community involvement and sportsmanship, just like Clemente who was a Hall of Famer beloved for his charitable efforts.
In 2012, Chris earned the award from the Pirates because he had spent that year giving back. He scheduled countless trips to local hospitals in Pittsburgh to spend time with sick children, gifting tickets, stuffed animals, T-shirts and often the very jersey off his back. He did the same thing for every team he pitched for during his MLB career. And that’s why, of all the tokens that the Barron Collier High School graduate could decorate his home with, it’s this award that he chooses to display. “Playing Major League Baseball doesn’t make me who I am,” 38-year-old Chris says. “That was just my job and career for 14 years. But the Roberto Clemente Award—that’s of far more meaning to who I am.” The award sits in his office, where Chris does the bulk of his work with his residential real estate agency, The Resop Team, a trade he transitioned into less than one month after he retired from baseball in 2014.
Selling homes wasn’t that much of a foreign concept for him. After signing with the Marlins out of high school, he spent the bulk of his Major League career as a journeyman reliever, pitching for five MLB teams, a handful of minor league clubs and a two-year stint playing pro baseball in Japan. That meant changing homes—a lot.
His wife, Kara, whom he met in high school and then dated after being drafted by the Marlins, had a real estate license. Whenever the family had to uproot themselves because of an unexpected trade or any other transaction, it was Kara, with Chris’ help, who navigated their next spot.
Practicing real estate in his hometown of Naples seemed like the perfect next step. In late 2019, Kara joined the agency, just in time for the unexpected boom in the market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “And that boom has been crazy,” Chris says.
Here’s a glimpse. As business surged in mid-2020, Kara worked out of their kids’ playroom while her husband set up shop outside on the family’s lanai. That’s because their 8-year-old daughter Kenna, who plays lacrosse and violin, occupied the kitchen bar area, while their 11-year-old son, Colton, a baseball player who also plays piano and bass, took over the family’s home office—both are students at Community School of Naples.
Soon, The Resop Team found themselves in bidding wars and working around the clock. By December, their agency closed out the year with roughly $125 million in sales—and it hasn’t let up so far in 2021. “We typically carry seven months of inventory,” Kara says. “Right now, we have less than one month.”
But while the real estate industry was booming, in part because of the pandemic, the Resops knew that many other industries and families were suffering. They were particularly concerned for the migrant workers who live in Immokalee. “It’s the backbone of our community,” Chris says. “They work incredibly hard, some 10 to 14 hours in the field, every day. They don’t have benefits, and they’re barely living paycheck to paycheck.”
Privately, the Resops have given back to the Immokalee community for years. In 2017, after Hurricane Irma, the couple made their giving public and organized a social media campaign that spurred a cavalry of donations, with more than 50 cars dropping off food, water, toiletries and more to Immokalee. And it wasn’t just the parents. “We put our kids to work, too,” Chris says, which meant Colton and Kenna were helping to organize care packages, load and unload trailers and deliver supplies.
Last year, after reading a story in the Naples Daily News about an Immokalee woman who was struggling to pay her rent during the pandemic, the Resops agreed to do it again. Chris posted a message on his Facebook page asking if anyone wanted to participate in the donation campaign. And just like in 2017, there was overwhelming support.
The Resops received checks, mobile donations via Venmo and cash. People dropped off food, clothing and toiletries at their doorstep. One day, Chris got a random call from a couple he’d never met, asking him to meet at Publix. They had recently received a $2,000 tax refund from the government, and instead of pocketing it, they bought 20 $100 Publix gift cards and handed them to Chris.
The whole Resop family, along with their close friends and current Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale and his wife Brianne, worked with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) to coordinate which families would receive the financial support and donations. And after a successful first round that supported eight families, the Resops and Sales did it again. Over the holidays, the families donated toys for 550 children. They estimate that they raised well over $50,000, and covered rent and utilities for 25 families—a symbol, just like Chris’ Roberto Clemente Award—of the couples’ commitment to give back. “But there’s still so much left to do,” Kara says. “I feel like we owe it to them to provide support and be an advocate whenever we can. “And it feels so good knowing other people feel the same way. Chris and I want to be community leaders, and if anything, inspire others to do their part. No amount of support is too small. Everything adds up in the end.”
Photography by Kelly Jones