This is going to be one of the those different posts. Too often, both in sports and in life, we read and hear about negativity. Whether it’s an athlete getting arrested for drunk driving or the daily carnage exhibited by regular folks, there has to be more out there has to be more in the news than just the same depressing stories, only with different faces. That is what this entry will be about; in fact I hope to make this a regular feature. It will focus on certain baseball players that do an enormous amount of good work, mainly done under the radar. Here are the first set of guys you should follow instead of the egomaniacs and criminals we read about every day.
Derek Jeter: That’s right, we start this with not only baseball’s ultimate winner but perhaps its best role model. There are legions of Jeter-haters out there waiting for the Captain to have an embarrassing public slip-up. That in of itself says volumes about today’s society. The fact is Jeter is a Hall of Fame player as well as a Hall of Fame person. His Turn 2 Foundation was started in 1996 when he was a rookie and is now one of baseball most recognized charities. The foundation contains numerous programs designed to promote healthy lifestyles among young people. Since its inception, Turn 2 has been awarded over $16 million dollars in grants for its three chapters. New York, Western Michigan and Tampa. In 2012 Siena College awarded him a Doctorate of Humane Letters for his charitable endeavors. As far as personal conduct goes, what parent (like me) wouldn’t like their child to emulate DJ? You don’t hear a whiff of trouble surrounding him in the media and he also conducts himself in an exemplary manner in public. He donates an enormous amount much of his time, money and energy into his foundation. In short, there is no better role model right now in baseball than Derek Jeter.
Jim Thome: The 42-year old future Hall of Famer is looking for a team at the moment. He still has a little bit of life left in his bat as he stroked eight home runs in 161 at-bats in 2012. There is always someone who can use a left-handed bat off the bench so I expect the slugger to find work before May 1st. If he can’t find work as a player, perhaps he can focus on his second career as a professional charity spokesperson. There are so many organizations Thome has either lent his time, money name or all of the above that it is almost impossible to keep track of. this link to an archived Chicago White Sox page may be able to guide you. 2005 was an exceptionally banner year for Thome’s work as he was honored by The Sporting News as Major League Baseball’s Number One Good Guy and the Lou Gehrig Award given to the player who exemplifies tremendous character. He has raised over $1 million dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. At each one of his extended stays (Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago) during his playing career, he has involved himself in numerous charities in those communities. One would be hard-pressed to find an athlete who is as generous with his time and money as Jim Thome.
Torii Hunter: There aren’t many players in baseball who smile more than the Gold Glove center fielder. Kids all over the country smile because Hunter both on and off the field. His Torii Hunter Project has outreach programs in four cities dedicated to helping kids with character education. Hunter has personally contributed over $1 million dollars to the cause and his partnered with another giving athlete, tennis great Andre Agassi. The Project began in Los Angeles while a member of the Angels just as he and his wife Katrina started the Torii and Katrina Hunter Foundation while he was playing for the Minnesota Twins. In 2007, he was awarded the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, given to one player for his outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to the community. In 2009, he received the Branch Rickey Award which rewards excellence in charity work. On March 4th, Hunter donated $100,000 to the University of Arkansas for the purposes of constructing an indoor baseball and track and field facility. His personality and tireless efforts on behalf of those less fortunate makes Torii Hunter one of baseball’s finest role models.
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