Charitable ballplayers up for award
Fans can help select Marvin Miller Man of the Year
NEW YORK -- Fans know of five-tool players, the highest designation given by scouts of an individual's ability. An award that fans can assist in bestowing is for six-tool players. That sixth tool is devotion to community service.
The six-tool player is one who does not limit his value to the ballpark. Away from the yard, many players devote money, time and energy to various causes that benefit their communities. Their value is measured not in statistics but in commitment to those in need. Such players have been recognized by the Major League Baseball Players Association annually since 1997 with the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.
The award, named after the first executive director of the PA, is presented each year to a player elected by his peers as the one who best combines on-field performance with community service. It takes more than RBIs or strikeouts to earn this award. It requires devotion to philanthropic and charitable causes, going above and beyond the call of duty to come to the aid of those struggling with hardships.
Voting begins this week on MLB.com and MLBPLAYERS.com, the PA's official Website, and fans are asked to select one player from each of Major League Baseball's six divisions. The six finalists will be voted on by Major League players as part of their annual Players Choice Awards balloting Sept. 17 (Sept. 18 for Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres players) at ballparks throughout North America to select the winner.
The Players Choice Awards, which includes Overall Player of the Year and Outstanding Player, Pitcher, Rookie and Comeback Player awards in each league, will be announced after the World Series.
Last year's Marvin Miller Man of the Year winner was center fielder Torii Hunter, then with the Minnesota Twins and now with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He created the Torii Hunter Project, which partners with the Little League Urban Initiative to halt the disappearance of baseball diamonds from America's inner cities. Hunter also devotes time and money to organizations such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Twin Cities and Athletes in Action, and he is active with a number of programs organized by the Major League Baseball Players Trust.
Among this year's 30 nominees (one from each team as selected by that club's players) are two previous winners -- St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (2006) and Oakland Athletics designated hitter/first baseman Mike Sweeney (2005).
Other winners over the years were John Smoltz and Jim Thome twice apiece, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Davis and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
The 2008 Players Choice Award winners in all categories will designate charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the Players Trust which, since 1992, has recognized the outstanding on- and off-the-field performances of awards winners by contributing more than $3 million to charities around the world.
Here are the 2008 Marvin Miller Man of the Year candidates as nominated by their teammates:
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Arizona Diamondbacks: Doug Davis
Davis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March but still managed to start the season in Arizona's rotation before undergoing treatment. The left-hander returned to the D-backs in May only two months after his diagnosis and was cancer-free. Beyond his fight with cancer and personal triumph, Davis has also raised a substantial amount of money for various charities within his community and is an avid supporter of the fight against breast cancer.
Colorado Rockies: Jason Grilli
Grilli spends a significant amount of time with children from the Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Golden, Colo., a school built on the premise that deaf children should be given the same chance to succeed as any other child and provides them tools and resources needed to develop their skills in an intellectually stimulating environment. Grilli also lends his time and support to local veterans homes and the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado. He knows firsthand how difficult the struggles of Alzheimer's can be, after watching his grandmother endure the disease, and he strives to make the lives of similar sufferers as easy as possible.
Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney
Loney found the experience in participating in the Houston-based Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program so positive that he took it upon himself to develop his own program that aids children in the Los Angeles community. His program, Loney's Lounge, provides 40 kids the chance to attend a Dodgers game and a video-game party at Dodger Stadium with Loney and other players. His charitable contributions stretch beyond his own organization. In 2008, Loney co-hosted a bowling fundraiser with teammate Brad Penny that raised $100,000 for the Dodgers Dream Foundation. Loney also spends countless hours in local children's hospitals trying to lift the spirits of sick children.
San Diego Padres: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez is a strong force in the clubhouse and his leadership abilities carry over into the community. His charity, The Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez Foundation, has helped numerous children with disabilities overcome their struggles. Gonzalez has also participated in many golf tournaments to support fundraising efforts. He shows a clear passion for baseball and shares that energy with fans by interacting with them and signing autographs on a daily basis at the stadium.
San Francisco Giants: Barry Zito
A former finalist for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award and MLB's Roberto Clemente Award, Zito is truly a humanitarian and active leader in his community. His role in founding the Strikeouts for Troops organization is one of his major accomplishments. Since its inception in 2005, Zito has recruited more than 50 big league players to join the program, which has raised more than $1 million. This year marks the fourth season of Zito's Strikeouts for Troops and he has pledged $500 for each strikeout he records during the season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood
Wood continues to lead by example within his community by hosting the annual Strike Zone Celebrity Bowling Tournament. This is the fifth year that Wood has hosted the event, which gathers celebrities to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charitable and community causes. In 2008, Wood and his wife, Sarah, chose to donate to the Organic School Project, an organization that strives to combat health epidemics such as obesity, early on-set Type II diabetes and behavioral problems in children.
Cincinnati Reds: Aaron Harang
Harang has been the Reds' staff ace and an ace in the Cincinnati community as well. In 2007, he began Aaron's Aces, a ticket program designed to provide a fun day at the ballpark for families who currently have a parent serving in the Middle East. In addition to the game tickets, Harang provides a personal meet-and-greet with each family prior to the games, which includes autograph/photograph opportunities, concession vouchers and a custom-made Aaron's Aces t-shirt. He is also an active participant in the club's Make-A-Wish program, which provides opportunities for children to meet their favorite Reds player during batting practice.
Houston Astros: Lance Berkman
Berkman leads his team in the clubhouse and sets an example outside of it. He and the Methodist Hospital sponsor a community program called Berkman's Bunch, which brings more than 50 underprivileged and sickly children from the Houston area to every Saturday game at Minute Maid Park. Berkman focuses his off-the-field attention to religion by participating and leading the Kings Men Bible Study, a six-week program for high school boys. Berkman's effort and support for Aid Sudan, a Christian organization that ministers Sudanese people, has gone a long way in developing the program further.
Milwaukee Brewers: Jeff Suppan
The Brewers provide four tickets to military service men and women for each home game, and Suppan has gone out of his way to provide additional food and souvenir vouchers for each ticket distributed. Suppan also donates $100 per strikeout to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which supports families who have lost a loved one in the Armed Forces. Suppan prides himself on having a direct impact in the Milwaukee area by sponsoring two local little league baseball teams as well as hosting an annual Christmas party for underprivileged inner-city children.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Nate McLouth
This year, McLouth developed Nate's Lucky 13, a season-long community initiative for kids. Each homestand, he gave 13 local children the opportunity to participate in a private meet-and-greet, take a behind-the-scenes tour of PNC Park, watch Pirates batting practice and enjoy free tickets and food vouchers for a game. McLouth also participates annually in fellow teammate Jack Wilson's Bowling with the Bucs tournament, which raises money for Pirates Charities and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
Winner of the 2006 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, Pujols and his wife, Deidre, are the founders of the Pujols Family Foundation, which is dedicated to the love, care and development of people with Down Syndrome and their families. Pujols hosts an annual charity golf tournament as well as a live auction to raise money for the foundation. The Pujols family dedicates their time not only to those with Down Syndrome, but also to the impoverished children and orphans of the Dominican Republic by donating time and money to better children's education.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Atlanta Braves: Tom Glavine
Glavine has donated time and resources to the community in both Atlanta and New York. In New York, he teamed up with Tuesday's Children, an organization for children who lost parents in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to offer support and stability in their lives. Glavine visits Tuesday's Children and established a $100,000 college scholarship for their benefit. Glavine has also served as a spokesman for Volunteers of America's - NY Operation Backpack program, which collects backpacks and school supplies for homeless children.
Florida Marlins: Hanley Ramirez
Ramirez has not only solidified himself as a young superstar on the field, but also as a role model off the field. He has participated in the Florida Marlins Community Foundation's Marlins Fish n' Chips Event and donated $25,000, which helps benefit the Cornerstone for Kids Initiative's arts, education and youth baseball programs. Ramirez promotes an annual equipment drive for the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, which collects playing gear for disadvantaged youths. He has involved himself in the Take Hanley to School promotional event, which gives one lucky and deserving student a chance to have Ramirez visit his or her school for a day.
New York Mets: Carlos Delgado
Since becoming a professional in 1989, Delgado's main goal has been to improve the lives of children. Six years ago, he started a foundation called Extra Bases, in which he has personally donated more than $1 million. It is a non-profit, Puerto Rican-based charity founded to assist underprivileged, deserving youngsters in the community and abroad. In 2008, for the fourth straight year, Delgado sponsored two four-year college scholarships. In addition, he sponsors trips to New York City for the top students in Puerto Rico. Last year, more than 35 students enjoyed a five-day tour of the Big Apple, which was capped off with a lunch at Shea Stadium with Delgado.
Philadelphia Phillies: Jamie Moyer
Moyer is one of the most active Major Leaguers in using his celebrity to aid charitable causes of all sizes. He and his wife, Karen, have established the Moyer Foundation, which benefits children's charities across the country. In 2000, the foundation established Camp Erin, which helps children and teenagers grieving with the loss of a loved one. In addition, Moyer hosts the annual Jamie Moyer Bowling Tournament and actively supports other charitable organizations such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Life Center Northwest and Refuse to Abuse.
Washington Nationals: Joel Hanrahan
Hanrahan has immersed himself in his local community, lending a helping hand whenever possible. He was an integral part of the 2008 Man and Woman of the Year Campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - National Capital Area Region. Hanrahan is an active member of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, making school visits, baseball camp visits and on-field meet-and-greets with numerous non-profit organizations. Hanrahan also mobilized an aggressive fundraising campaign for the American Red Cross to support flooding in his home state of Iowa.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Howie Kendrick
Kendrick makes it his priority to give back to his community off the field while continuing his excellent play on it. Last year, he attended manager Mike Scioscia's youth baseball clinic to reach out and teach the fundamentals of baseball to local little leaguers. Kendrick makes numerous visits throughout the year to the Children's Hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County in order to cheer up sick children. He also spoke to the children of Paul Revere Elementary in Anaheim during a school-wide assembly for the Adopt a School program sponsored by the Angels Baseball Foundation.
Oakland Athletics: Mike Sweeney
Sweeney is described by teammates as a caring individual who gives back to his community, team and family. During his time in Kansas City, Sweeney consistently gave back to the community and was the 2005 winner of the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award and a nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. He has continued to support those Kansas City-area programs such as the Kansas City FCA chapter, Children's Mercy Hospital and the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City.
Seattle Mariners: Raul Ibanez
A man of integrity and a consummate professional on and off the field, Ibanez has been nominated for the Miller Man of the Year Award by his teammates for the third consecutive year. His major off-the-field passion is helping to fight Cystic Fibrosis. Each year, he hosts the annual Cystic Fibrosis Mariners Care Golf Tournament and is involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Millennium $1 Million Club, which has raised more than $1 million to benefit patients afflicted with CF.
Texas Rangers: Michael Young
Ever since arriving on the scene, Young has proved an inspirational leader on and off the field and is quick to lend a helping hand to charitable causes in the Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington area. He is particularly interested in helping children in need and he serves as an ambassador for Wipe Out Kids Cancer. Young and teammate Jason Jennings are members of the Major League Baseball Players Trust's Action Team, helping to inspire and train high school students to become volunteers in their community. In 2003, Young was the recipient of the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award by the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Chicago White Sox: Jermaine Dye
While always a consistent contributor to his team on the field, Dye has gone well beyond the call of duty off the field this season. Highlights of his seemingly endless community contributions include his participation in the Double-Duty All-Star Game (Negro Leagues Tribute), his support of the Dye Hearts Little League team and his continued efforts with the Boys & Girls Club program, JD's MVPs.
Cleveland Indians: Grady Sizemore
Sizemore is involved with many charitable causes and plays a large role with Cleveland Indians Charities (CIC). He spent 2008 as CIC's spokesman for the Youth Baseball and Softball program and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Sizemore has donated money to CIC annually since signing his contract in 2006. Sizemore participated in the RBI 1st Pitch event, a baseball and health education clinic at Progressive Field for RBI participants. He has also participated in the 2008 Equipment Drive for the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and the Shop With A Pro program in which players and local Boys & Girls Club members team up and go shopping at a local sporting goods store.
Detroit Tigers: Curtis Granderson
Granderson is deeply immersed in numerous charity and community-driven organizations. In 2008, he established the Grand Kids Foundation, focusing on the importance of educational initiatives for children as well as helping re-introduce baseball in inner cities around the U.S. Granderson is an active member in the Major League Baseball Players Trust's Action Team national youth volunteer program, which helps inspire and train the next generation of volunteers.
Kansas City Royals: John Buck
Buck's list of charitable interests is as long as it is diverse. He has been an active supporter of the Royals' Gloves for Kids program to help provide new equipment for underserved young ballplayers. Buck also supports the Challenger League by meeting with physically and mentally challenged players. Buck holds a charity golf tournament, baseball camp and a home run derby in his home town of Salt Lake City with the proceeds going to Intercity Kids Baseball. He has created a foundation called the Buckaroos, which is dedicated to bringing underprivileged children to ball games, many for the first time.
Minnesota Twins: Justin Morneau
Morneau, the AL MVP in only in his second season in 2006, has established himself as an MVP in his community as well. He has met and hosted Special Olympics athletes at Twins games and serves as a member of the honorary board of the Special Olympics Minnesota. In 2007, Morneau dedicated $100 per RBI to renovate youth ball fields in the Minneapolis area with the hope of reviving inner city baseball. His program, Morneau's Mounties, has provided tickets to more than 20,000 economically disadvantaged youth from the Twin Cities.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Baltimore Orioles: Brian Roberts
Roberts is deeply involved with the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. This marks his fifth year of involvement with the hospital in an effort to give back after undergoing open heart surgery when he was 5 years old. Roberts spends countless hours visiting children recovering from heart surgery. Looking to do even more, he created Brian's Baseball Bash, an annual fundraising event that includes an ESPNZone game card, dinner and dessert, a chance to meet Orioles players, get autographs, receive Orioles giveaways and participate in silent and live auctions.
Boston Red Sox: Sean Casey
From the moment he arrived in Boston, Casey has fully embraced Red Sox Nation. He has devoted time to many organizations, including the Red Sox Foundation, Mass Mentoring and the Jimmy Fund. Casey often greets fans and signs autographs for them at Fenway Park and on the road. He co-founded Labels Are For Jars, an organization that raises money to feed people in Lawrence, Mass., one of the poorest cities in the United States.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter
In addition to being the captain of the Yankees and a leader in the clubhouse, Jeter has been at the forefront of myriad charitable efforts. For more than 10 years, Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation has raised more than $7 million to help children across the country. Turn 2 creates and finances programs that promote the development of sound academic, fitness and leadership habits among children and to caution against the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trever Miller
Miller is an active member in the community and gives his time and resources to various charitable organizations. He is an annual contributor to Barry Zito's Strikeouts for the Troops and Miracle League's B.O.D.'s for Florida. Miller hosts the annual Miracle League golf tournament and also dedicates time and money to the Ronald McDonald House and All Children's Hospitals in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay
On multiple occasions each season, Halladay and his wife, Brandy, help patients at the Hospital for Sick Children by bringing them to Rogers Centre for a game as their personal guests. Halladay takes time out to meet and get to know the children and their families. Halladay spares no expense in bringing joy to the families by inviting them into a luxury box for the game. He donated $100,000 to the Jays Care Foundation that looks to support programs, groups, and activities that improve the quality life of youngsters in need.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.