Teammates recognize contributions to a winning effort, be it a well-timed hit, a well-placed pitch or a well-executed fielding play. Just as recognized in Major League clubhouses is the complete player, the one who does not restrict his value only to the ballpark.Many great players also devote money, time and energy to various causes that benefit their communities. 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 MLBPA, 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, and going above and beyond the call of duty to come to the aid of those in need.
Last year’s winner was Albert Pujols. On the field, the first baseman of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals batted .331 with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs and led the league in batting with runners in scoring position (.397). Off the field, he established the Pujols Family Foundation, dedicated to the love, care and development of people with Down Syndrome. The cause is close to the hearts of Albert and his wife, Deidre, because their daughter Isabella has Down Syndrome.
In addition to Pujols, another former winner among this year’s 30 nominees — one from each team as selected by that club’s players — is Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome, who won in both of his previous cities, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
Voting takes place now through Monday on MLB.com and MLBPLAYERS.com. Fans are asked to select one player from each of Major League Baseball’s six divisions. After the fans choose the six finalists, the players will then vote for the Man of the Year Award winner as part of the Players Choice Awards balloting. The accounting firm KPMG will conduct the balloting at ballparks from Sept. 11-12.
In addition to the Marvin Miller Man of the Year, the Players Choice Awards includes Overall Player of the Year as well as the Outstanding Player, Pitcher, Rookie and Comeback Player awards in each league. Winners will be announced after the World Series.
Each Players Choice Awards winner will designate a charity to receive a grant ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 from the Players Trust, a non-profit foundation created and administered by the players.
Here are the 2007 Marvin Miller Man of the Year nominees:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Baltimore Orioles: Brian Roberts
Brian has been deeply involved with the University of Maryland Hospital for Children for four years. The second baseman, who underwent open heart surgery at the age of five, donates countless hours to visiting children recovering from heart surgery by talking with patients, parents and signing autographs. 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: Tim Wakefield
Tim is renowned for his dedication to the Boston community. Established in 1998, the Wakefield Warriors program brings patients from the Franciscan Children’s Hospital to Fenway Park before select home games to watch batting practice, visit with Wakefield and enjoy the game. He also works with the Space Coast Early Intervention Center in his native Melbourne, Fla. Tim has continually donated and raised money for the preschool and therapeutic program so that special needs and non-special needs children may continue to benefit from the Center.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter
A team leader on the field and in the clubhouse, Derek has been at the forefront of myriad charitable efforts as well. His Turn 2 Foundation, which the Yankees’ captain established 10 years ago, has raised more than $7 million to help children across the country. The organization is considered a model among sports charities. 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 Devil Rays: James Shields
James has emerged as a key part of the rotation and embraced a higher profile in community involvement this season. He became the club’s spokesman to promote awareness of the need for more foster and adoptive families. Shields filmed an awareness message for the Heart Gallery, a collection of professional photographs of children available for adoption that is on display at Tropicana Field. He made a point of speaking personally with each soldier wounded in Iraq when they visited in June. James is also a regular visitor with Tuesday’s Champions — a club-hosted program for children battling life-threatening illnesses.
Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay
Several times each season, Roy and his wife, Brandy, bring patients from the Hospital for Sick Children to the Rogers Centre to enjoy a game in a private suite as their personal guests. Roy considers getting to know the children and their families a perk of his job. During the 2006 season, Roy donated $100,000 to the Jays Care Foundation, which seeks to support programs, groups and activities that improve the quality life of youngsters in need.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Chicago White Sox: Jim Thome
One of the most socially active players in baseball, Jim is up for his third Man of the Year Award, having won the honor in 2001 with the Indians and 2004 with the Phillies. His commitment to the community is both involved and wide-ranging. In working with Children’s Home + Aid of Illinois and Family Champions for Family Champions, Thome strives to strengthen communities across Illinois. In addition, the 12th annual Joyce Thome Benefit Dinner, run by Jim and his wife, Andrea, raised more than $200,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria in 2007.
Cleveland Indians: Travis Hafner
Travis’ on-field exploits are as impressive as his off-field commitment to improve the lives of others. Donating time and money, Hafner is an active supporter of the Animal Protective League, Boys and Girls Clubs and Cleveland Indians Charities. This month, Travis and his wife, Amy, are launching a program in conjunction with the Cleveland Boys and Girls Clubs called Pronk’s Peeps to help teach life skills to more than 550 children from 14 area schools.
Detroit Tigers: Brandon Inge
Brandon and his wife, Shani, are committed to improving the lives of children in need, especially those who are ill or injured. Inge donated $100,000 to Mott’s Children’s Hospital, where he spends much of his spare time visiting children. Brandon also helped coordinate a celebrity bowling tournament with proceeds benefiting Mott’s Children’s Hospital and the Detroit Tigers Foundation. He donates tickets to deserving and needy children from the Detroit area and he is actively involved with the club’s Dreams Come True program, visiting and spending time with people suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
Kansas City Royals: John Buck
John supports a diverse group of charitable interests. He has been active in the Royals’ Gloves for Kids program to help provide new baseball equipment for underprivileged ballplayers. His involvement in the Kansas City area extends year round, as he regularly participates in the club’s holiday activities distributing gifts and food to various KC-area charities. During Spring Training, he participates in the annual Caravan in Surprise, Ariz. He has also supported the Challenger League, meeting with physically and mentally challenged ballplayers, and spends time visiting with patients in VA Hospitals.
Minnesota Twins: Torii Hunter
Torii’s passion in life is baseball, both in playing the game and in sharing it with those less fortunate. This year, he created the Torii Hunter Project, which partners with the Little League Urban Initiative to stop the disappearance of baseball diamonds from America’s inner cities. Additionally, Torii devotes his time and money to organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Twin Cities, Athletes in Action, and he is active with a number of programs organized by the Major League Baseball Players Trust.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Los Angeles Angels: Vladimir Guerrero
The Vlad’s Pad program donates 127 tickets to charities in the area for each Angels home game and enables more than 10,000 children to attend games each season. Guerrero has also been involved with the local charitable group “Padres Contra El Cancer” donating game tickets for children and families affected by cancer. Vladimir supports the Make A Wish Foundation in Orange County by helping to facilitate a number of wish visits by local children. In the Dominican Republic, the Guerrero Family business — Los Hermanos Guerrero — helps provide several job opportunities in his hometown.
Oakland Athletics: Nick Swisher
Nick’s all-out approach extends from the field to his charitable commitment. Inspired by his late grandmother, Betty Swisher, he created the “Swishes Wishes” foundation to assist with childhood medical care, education and recreation. Nick’s mission is to make a difference in a child’s life while raising self esteem. Swisher supports the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, the only independent children’s hospital in Northern California, as well as former teammate Barry Zito’s “Strikeouts for Troops” campaign. Nick made “head” lines when he went without a haircut for 10 months and donated it to make wigs for women with cancer.
Seattle Mariners: Raul Ibanez
A consummate professional on and off the field, Raul has been nominated by his teammates for the second consecutive year. His major off-field passion is helping to fight Cystic Fibrosis. Each year, Ibanez is the host of 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 the disease. Raul also involves himself in numerous other charitable causes, including the Major League Baseball Players Trust’s Action Team youth volunteer program, inspiring and training the next generation of volunteers.
Texas Rangers: Michael Young
Michael, an inspirational leader on and off the field, is particularly interested in helping children in need and serves as an ambassador for Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer. Michael serves as a Dallas/Ft. Worth Action Team Player with teammate Brad Wilkerson and works with area high school students to inspire and train them to become volunteers in their community. In 2003, Young received the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award from Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Atlanta Braves: Tim Hudson
Tim’s involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation dates to his time in Oakland. He and his wife, Kim, are now ambassadors for the Foundation’s Georgia and Alabama chapters. Hudson regularly hosts eight to 10 critically-ill children on Make-A-Wish visits to Turner Field. As honorary co-chairs for the annual Celebration of Wishes black-tie gala, Tim and Kim were involved in planning the event, which raised $300,000. Tim participates in the Braves’ Power Lunch Series, Jerseys Off Our Backs fund-raiser and Christmas In July hospital visits to youth. He supports local and regional charities such as A Tribute to our Quiet Heroes and Anna’s Angel Fund.
Florida Marlins: Miguel Cabrera
This year, Miguel donated $50,000 to the Florida Marlins Community Foundation. A portion of his donation goes toward funding the Miguel Cabrera Coach Pitch League, which is run in conjunction with the City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department and concentrates its focus at 10 inner-city parks. Miguel’s donation guarantees that kids receive proper equipment and resources to play baseball. Cabrera is also involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, spending time with Make-A-Wish kids at the ballpark.
New York Mets: Tom Glavine
Tom’s resume of charitable involvement is matched only by his many baseball accomplishments. Over the course of his 21-year career, Glavine has been actively involved in charities such as Volunteers of America, New York’s Operation Backpack campaign, the Georgia Transplant Foundation, Tuesday’s Children, the Leukemia Society of America and has worked with Major League Baseball as part of the Commissioner’s Initiative for Kids. Most recently, Tom rallied teammates to donate more than $625,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief.
Philadelphia Phillies: Jamie Moyer
Jamie and his wife, Karen, have established the Moyer Foundation, which benefits children’s charities across the country. In 2000, the Moyer Foundation established Camp Erin, which helps children and teenagers grieving with the loss of a loved one. In addition, Jamie hosts the annual Jamie Moyer Bowling Tournament, and actively supports other charities such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Life Center Northwest, and Refuse to Abuse.
Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman
Following his rookie season in 2006, Ryan established the ziMS Foundation, dedicated to the treatment and curing of Multiple Sclerosis. Zimmerman has been motivated to help fight MS since 1995 when his mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with the disease. The ziMS Foundation dovetails with Ryan’s involvement with the National and Washington, D.C., chapters of the MS Society. The ziMS Foundation will conduct its second annual golf tournament following the season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Chicago Cubs: Derrek Lee
When his 3-year-old daughter, Jada, was diagnosed with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a degenerative disease that results in loss of vision, Derrek confronted the issue by founding the Project 3000 effort to fight LCA. In conjunction with Lee’s 1st Touch Foundation, Project 3000 aims to eradicate LCA, a disease that affects an estimated 3,000 people in the United States. Derrek has also sponsored Chicago-area RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) teams and has been host to numerous ill and injured children through agencies such as Make-A-Wish.
Cincinnati Reds: Aaron Harang
Debuting in 2007 was “Aaron’s Aces,” a ticket program designed to provide a day at the ballpark for families who currently have a parent serving in the Middle East. Aaron provides game tickets and a personal meet-and-greet with each family prior to the game as well as concession vouchers and a custom-made “Aaron’s Aces” t-shirt. Harang was the first player to commit to the “Shop with a Jock” program presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. Players sponsored five children ($100 each) for a shopping spree at the store. Aaron also supports the club’s Make-A-Wish program.
Houston Astros: Craig Biggio
Craig, whose leadership on and off the field has been an inspiration to peers and fans alike, has been synonymous with the Sunshine Kids, which assists children with cancer and their families. He was the Astros’ 1991 nominee for the Bart Giamatti Caring Award, given annually to a Major League player to recognize his community involvement, and was the winner of the 1997 Branch Rickey Award for community service. Biggio was named one of The Sporting News‘ Good Guys in 2004 for his charitable efforts and has already been inducted into Texas’ Baseball Hall of Fame and Sports Hall of Fame.
Milwaukee Brewers: Geoff Jenkins
Geoff has struck a friendly chord in the state of Wisconsin with his caring and outgoing personality during 10 seasons with the Brewers. He has worked closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA. He purchases tickets to games and serves as the personal host of children from various youth centers. Geoff provides for the transportation, meets with the children, signs autographs, answers questions, poses for photos and provides the kids with food and beverage vouchers and souvenirs. Geoff is also active in prostate cancer research and helps with fundraising and awareness every year.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jack Wilson
Jack is always one of the first to volunteer for community events and to support other players’ own charitable initiatives. His primary cause is the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. In May, Wilson hosted the third annual “Bowling with the Bucs” tournament for Make-A-Wish, which netted more than $20,000. Over three years the event has raised more than $57,000 and almost 20 wishes were fulfilled. Jack also supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association. He has also donated time to the Pittsburgh Youth Network’s Players 4 Kidz initiative.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
Winner of the 2006 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, Albert and his wife, Deidre, are the founders of the Pujols Family Foundation, dedicated to the love, care and development of people with Down Syndrome and their families. He hosts a charity golf tournament to raise money for the foundation and conducts live auctions, at which he has been known to buy some of the expensive items and give them to kids in the audience who have Down Syndrome. The Pujols family also devotes time and money to impoverished children and orphans of the Dominican Republic.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Arizona Diamondbacks: Tony Clark
Tony and his wife, Frances, established the MVP (Maximizing Valuable Potential) Foundation three years ago. The Clarks partner with local schools to sponsor an essay contest called MVP Suite Nights in which winners of each of the four contests are treated — along with 40 guests — to a Diamondbacks game and dinner in a suite. The foundation also awards scholarships to minority high school students and donates tickets to non-profit organizations. Tony is also active in the administration and direction of the Major League Baseball Players Trust and serves as a League Representative on the Players Association Executive Board.
Colorado Rockies: Matt Holliday
An advocate for youth baseball programs, Matt teaches disadvantaged youth the necessary skills to play baseball while having fun. In addition, Holliday is involved in the Rockies School Program, an elementary school initiative to encourage kids to stay in school, refuse drugs and get involved. Last holiday season, Matt visited The Children’s Hospital’s/Make a Wish Holiday Wish Store, providing gifts to terminally ill children. On off days, Matt often visits Craig Hospital, a hospital for individuals with brain and spine injuries, as well as National Jewish Hospital’s Kunsburg School, a school for children who suffer from lung and allergy problems.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Brad Penny
Last month, Brad combined two of his passions, fishing and helping needy kids, when he hosted 40 underprivileged children on a charity fishing trip. For many of the kids, it was their first fishing experience. Penny spends time visiting the Salesian Boys & Girls Club with teammate and fellow Oklahoma native Matt Kemp, where they hung out with youngsters in the newly renovated Dodgers playroom. Brad also supports and participates in the Women’s Initiative & Network (WIN) clinic at Dodger Stadium and visits with young patients at White Memorial Hospital.
San Diego Padres: Jake Peavy
Jake’s charity ticket program will allow more than 1,800 children from inner-city recreation centers to participate in the Padres Youth Baseball Clinics this season. Since 2003, Peavy has participated in Rady Children’s Hospital’s Celebration of Champions benefiting the hospital’s pediatric cancer unit. Jake appears at four local military bases and annually donates $10,000 to Barry Zito’s Strikeout for Troops Foundation, which provides injured US soldiers with support during their recovery. During the offseason, Peavy hosted 30 boys at a complimentary five-day leadership camp called Team Focus, which provides guidance to young fatherless men, ages 10 to 17.
San Francisco Giants: Barry Zito
Barry has recruited dozens of big-league players to join Strikeouts for Troops, a program he started in 2005 that benefits war-wounded troops being treated at Walter Reed, Besthesda Naval and other military hospitals. Funds raised are used to provide injured soldiers the comforts of home in an effort to assist their recovery, as well as travel and housing expenses for patients’ families. Zito makes financial contributions for each strikeout he records and subsidizes the foundation’s administrative costs so that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the charity.