Felix Hernandez, one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball, is also recognized for his leadership off the field.
Felix is the Seattle Mariners 2012 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet.
Beginning today, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the national award recipient by visiting MLB.com/ClementeAward to vote for one of the 30 Club nominees. Participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2012 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 14th, and the winner of the fan poll will receive one vote among those cast by a selection panel.
Tonight, before the Mariners take on the Baltimore Orioles, Felix will be honored during a pre-game ceremony. Felix is active with a number of local charities and non-profit organizations including Make-A-Wish, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Esperanza, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Special Olympics of Washington and Humane Society of Seattle/King County.
The distinguished list of past national Roberto Clemente Award recipients includes three former Mariners (Harold Reynolds, Jamie Moyer and Edgar Martinez), as well as 14 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Crews from Seattle Parks & Recreation, City of Lakewood and Metro Parks Tacoma got tips on how to keep a playing field in top shape from one of the best grounds crews in Major League Baseball.
Seattle Mariners head groundskeeper Bob Christofferson and his team put on a field maintenance clinic at Safeco Field in conjunction with Baseball Tomorrow Fund, which provides grants for youth baseball and softball field renovation and construction.
Christofferson took some of the mystery out of what they do (stripes on the field are the result of the direction of the mower blades on the grass) and good naturedly dodged a few questions about how he helps ensure a “home field advantage” for the Mariners.
As beautiful as the field is to look at, Christofferson told the group “my number one job is the take care of the ballplayers’ needs. They don’t care about how green the grass is. They only care about how it plays.”
For example, he told them that groundskeepers work with the position players to make sure the conditions of the grass and the dirt are to their liking. One staff member, Tim Wilson, is the designated mound expert. “He talks to the pitchers before their starts, but mostly after, to make sure the mound conditions are just right,” said Christofferson. A good grounds crew will tailor the mound so that it matches up with each starter’s preferences and motion. Some guys like a soft landing. Some want it hard as a rock. The young pitchers, he says, don’t always know what they want, but with a veteran like Felix Hernandez, Christofferson says Wilson knows exactly how Felix wants it.
In addition to the finer points of the pitcher’s mound, the group got hands-on instruction on chalking, infield prep and fertilizer.
After the clinic, representatives from Baseball Tomorrow Fund presented a $10,000 check to Kennewick American Youth Baseball to help with the renovation of one of their fields at Canyon View Elementary school into a mini replica of Safeco Field. The project is in honor of Cooper Larson, who was a bat boy for a KAYB team. Cooper was just shy of his 5th birthday when he died of a non-operable form of brain cancer in 2008. Before he died, Cooper came to Safeco Field with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and met Raul Ibañez and other members of the Mariners team. He proudly wore his Kennewick Youth Baseball uniform that day.
Tim Doyle, Vice President of KAYB, says the grant will be a big help with the project, but they still have a ways to go to get to their fundraising goal. Plans for the project have been drawn up, the permits have been issued and they hope to start work soon so that the field can be ready for the new youth baseball season next spring.
A group of kids from Seattle area Boys & Girls Clubs and community centers got to play at Safeco Field Tuesday with Mariners players and team trainers.
It was the annual P.L.A.Y. event, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth. Miguel Olivo, Brendan Ryan, Trayvon Robinson, Mike Carp and Cater Capps joined Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin and three members of his staff and put the 100 or so kids through the same paces a professional baseball player goes through before each game.
The kids did sprints, high knee lifts, scissor kicks and agility exercises on the outfield at Safeco Field. They also got some information about good nutrition and with the help of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, the kids got a lesson about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.
Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan told the kids from the South Park Community Center, and Rainier Vista and Federal Way/Auburn Boys & Girls Clubs that there are consequences to every action and they should do their best to make the right choices. “Steroids may seem like an easy fix, but in the long run it’s going to affect your life and your family. Follow your heart and try to do the right thing,” said Ryan.
Trainer Rob Nodine told the kids that although they may never be Major Leaguers they can still be successful at whatever they do. “These guys have worked hard and made the right choices. In your life and your future careers, you can make the same right choices and work hard and succeed,” said Nodine.
P.L.A.Y. is a public awareness campaign developed by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) in 2004 to combat child obesity. Through a series of fitness programs at all 30 MLB ballparks, P.L.A.Y. encourages kids to be active, eat right and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Working with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and all 30 Major League Baseball teams, PBATS incorporates anti-steroid education within their P.L.A.Y. campaign to generate awareness about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.
Friday is the annual Mariners Wives Favorite Things basket auction. They load up baskets (really, any kind of container) with various items of their husbands’ choosing and then auction them off to benefit Mariners Care, the team’s non-profit foundation.
Among the categories of items are candy, movies, music, restaurants and hobbies. The baskets are usually loaded up with autographed and sometimes game-used items. New this year, a couple of small kitchen appliances.
Here are some highlights:
The other small appliance is a Keurig single-cup coffeemaker in Eric Wedge’s basket. He uses his every day and has gone through three of them, that’s how much he likes it. He’s also a fan of the HBO original series with the complete first season of The Sopranos and the second season of Entourage.
Shawn Kelley filled his basket with autographed Mizuno spikes (they look too clean to be game-used), size 13. His DVDs are Step Brothers, Braveheart, and the first season of Boardwalk Empire. He also included an electronic Scrabble Catch Phrase game.
Kyle Seager is a fan of the original Caddyshack (and really, who isn’t?), as well as Panera Bread and P.F. Chang’s restaurant. You’ll also get an autographed copy of the July 2012 Mariners Magazine featuring cover boy Kyle Seager.
Relief pitcher Josh Kinney is clearly a big hunter. His basket has a camo cap and pack, mule deer call, a selection of human scent eliminator sprays, a shotgun shell-shaped thermos. Oh, and a bottle of Tefft Cellars merlot.
Michael Saunders is a crossword puzzle guy, so he included a book of 200 puzzles. His basket also includes a Barnes & Noble and AMC Theatres gift cards. And true to his Canadian roots, a Vancouver Canucks scarf. Go Canucks!
The Favorite Things baskets will be on display near Section 128 on the Main Concourse at Safeco Field on Friday, August 17. Silent bids will be accepted through the end of the sixth inning.
Pitcher Lucas Luetge joined players from the Seattle Storm and former players for the Seahawks and Sounders yesterday to spruce up the Joan Allen Memorial Garden at Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth High School.
The players, students and community volunteers helped build raised planting beds from recovered cedar, planted fall crop seedlings, weeded existing planting areas and fixed up the garden tool shed.
New Seattle Schools Superintendent Jose Banda was also on hand. Banda arrived recently from the Bay Area, and he admitted to being an Oakland A’s fan, but said he went to his first Mariners game at Safeco Field recently and loved the ballpark.
The work party was organized to help build momentum for the Green Apple Day of Service on September 29, a world-wide initiative to engage students, teachers, parents, business leaders, elected officials and others in activities at their local schools.
Partners who helped make today’s event possible included the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington Green Schools, Skanska, Cedar Grove composting, Vulcan, McKinstry, Howard S. Wright, and Green Sports Coalition.
Jesus Montero, Hisashi Iwakuma and the Mariner Moose spent some time today with patients at Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Their visit was part of the on-going Mariners Get Well Tour, presented by Holland America Line. There were smiles all around as patients posed for photos, got autographs and received gift bags, courtesy of Holland America Lines.
Some 1,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair users participated in Saturday’s inaugural Refuse to Abuse 5k at Safeco Field. The event raised over $18,000 for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence statewide prevention and education programs.
The first person across the finish line was Paul Mannino at 17:44. The top women’s finisher was Erica McElrea at 19:10. The top three fundraisers were Donald Mackey, Mike Clark and April Randhawa. Every dollar raised will directly support WSCADV’s violence prevention efforts across the state, including work with teens and youth engagement.
The 5k course wound its way around and through Safeco Field with the finish line on the warning track just beyond third base. Kate Wedge, wife of Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who were co-chairs of the event, was at the end of the course to greet finishers.
At a ceremony to close the successful event, Kate Wedge thanked participants for making “a statement to the nation against domestic violence and for prevention.”
Participants came from 17 states and Canada and ranged in age from 8-80. Among the runners were Shelley Vargas, wife of Mariners pitcher Jason Vargas, Kristin Smoak, wife of Justin Smoak, and Sharyn Meichtry, Brendan Ryan’s fiancé.
In addition to the Seattle Mariners and the team’s non-profit foundation Mariners Care, the event was supported by FAROut.org (a project of The NW Network), Seattle Goodwill, Lummi Nation, Brooks and the CW11 (KSTW).
The Refuse To Abuse® campaign is a 15-year partnership between the Seattle Mariners and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to promote healthy, respectful relationships. Print, radio, and television public service announcements in both English and Spanish are produced featuring prominent Mariners, reaching hundreds of thousands of people across the Northwest. This year’s campaign features Eric and Kate Wedge, Felix Hernandez, and Franklin Gutierrez, and is supported by Wells Fargo, with in-kind support from the marketing firm Craters of the Moon.
The annual Baseball Tomorrow Fund equipment drive is Saturday, July 14, when the Mariners take on the Texas Rangers. Volunteers will be outside the gates of Safeco Field collecting donations of equipment and cash. The proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. They’ll also receive a $5000 Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant. Outfielder Casper Wells will participate in the pregame presentation.
Baseball Tomorrow Fund is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. It was established in 1999 through a $10 million commitment by MLB and the Players Association.
Last year, over 15,000 pieces of equipment and over $300,000 in monetary contributions were donated to youth baseball and softball organizations in Major League markets in conjunction with the Equipment Day initiative. To date, nearly 100,000 pieces of equipment and approximately $1,250,000 in cash donations has benefited organizations in need.
Monday was an off day for the Mariners, but a large group of players and front office staff hit the links at The Golf Club at Newcastle in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Since 1986 the tournament has raised approximately $4.66 million for cystic fibrosis research.
Players that hit the links today included tournament co-chairs Dustin Ackley, Shawn Kelley and Justin Smoak, as well as Blake Beavan, Brendan Ryan, Charlie Furbush, Tom Wilhelmsen, Jason Vargas and Stephen Pryor. Members of the coaching staff (Mike Brumley, Jason Phillips, Scott Budner), Training Staff (Rick Griffin & Rob Nodine), Strength Staff (James Clifford), Baseball Operations (Jack Zduriencik, Jeff Kingston) and a group of former players, including Dave Valle, Dave Henderson, Bill Krueger and Bucky Jacobsen.
With great weather, a beautiful golf course and a great group of players, the day promises to be plenty of fun, with lots of money raised for a special cause. The 18-hole tournament will be followed by a silent auction of sports memorabilia and other items and a dinner and live auction at the Clubhouse (starts at 4:30pm).
Dan and Annie Wilson today were officially introduced as co-chairs of United Way of King County’s 2012-13 campaign.
As faces of the giving campaign, Dan and Annie will be front and center in United Way’s mission to help people in need and take action to help solve our community’s toughest challenges.
Money raised during the campaign, and throughout the year, allows United Way of King County to invest in programs that keep people housed, fed, and able to meet their basic needs; bring an end to chronic homelessness; and arm kids with the kind of early learning that gives every child, regardless of income level, an equal chance at school success.
“That’s why I still live here,” Dan says. “We are blessed to have found such a generous community, and it’s our privilege and duty to get involved in it,” he adds.
“So much is possible when we pull together and work on a community scale,” Annie says. “Dan and I are so excited to get started.”
The Wilsons have been actively involved in the Seattle community since they arrived in 1994 with their work at Seattle’s First Place School—a private nonprofit K–6 school for children facing homelessness or other trauma. They are also active supporters of the adoption agency All God’s Children International and Seattle Children’s Hospital.