Dye's impact extends beyond the field
Charitable outfielder White Sox nominee for Clemente Award
CHICAGO -- During a recent press conference following a White Sox victory, Ozzie Guillen referred to right fielder Jermaine Dye as the most consistent on-field presence he has managed during the four years Dye has been with the team.
Dye's desire for excellence and fulfillment of that goal extends off the field, as well.
The 34-year-old and veteran of 13 Major League seasons seasons has made as strong of an impact in the community as he has between the white lines, strong enough to earn the White Sox nomination for the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet.
In an effort to reach out to the stars of tomorrow through baseball, Dye has influenced the lives of many youngsters both in and outside of the Chicagoland area. Through "JDs MVPs" program, Dye hosts nine members from the Chicagoland Boys & Girls Clubs at one home game every month. In addition to receiving on-field recognition before the game, these selected members receive a "JDs MVPs" T-shirt and money for concessions during the game. They also have the opportunity to watch batting practice and visit with Dye on the field prior to the game.
This member of the Boys & Girls Clubs as he was growing up also has worked with these Clubs in Oakland and Kansas City, cities of the former teams where he used to play. In his home state of California, Dye has helped fund a youth baseball team appropriately named "Dye Hard Baseball."
Dye provided the entry fee for the team into more than eight tournaments, along with funding cleats, equipment bags, jerseys, hats, belts, socks and pants for each of the kids on the team. When the team qualified for a tournament at Walt Disney World, Dye took care of the costs for all the players and four coaches.
Often times, during early pregame drills, Dye can be seen wearing his own "Dye Hard Baseball" jersey. The team had a chance to meet with him prior to a game in San Francisco during Interleague Play back in mid-May.
As part of the first Double-Duty Classic, an event celebrating the history and tradition of Negro League baseball in Chicago and promoting the next generation of inner-city baseball players, Dye participated in a special forum held at U.S. Cellular Field's Conference & Learning Center on July 7. Dye was part of a particular panel with first-base coach Harold Baines and spoke to young inner-city athletes about his route to the big leagues and presented tips on what their focus should be as they move forward with their respective lives.
The Clemente Award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.
Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 5. The fan ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder. The winner will be announced during the World Series.
Last year's Clemente Award winner was Houston's Craig Biggio, while Jim Thome won the honor in 2002. The White Sox actually have a clubhouse full of players who understand the importance of making a commitment to the surrounding community, as well as coming up with big hits and crucial strikeouts of the opposition.
It's a charitable, giving commitment starting with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and working its way down through general manager Ken Williams and Guillen. The exceptional work turned in by the low-key but steady Dye, who also was the White Sox nominee for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, has been selected for 2008 recognition.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.