All Jeremy Affeldt ever wanted was the opportunity to dream. Growing up, Affeldt didn't know if he possessed the talent to become a left-handed reliever for the San Francisco Giants, but at least he was able to entertain the thought. Unlike Affeldt, millions of children can't even begin to fathom becoming a professional athlete. Affeldt is trying to instill the idea of dreams in those kids by working with charities such as Generation Alive! and Not For Sale. Because of his work with those charities, Affeldt, 31, is the Giants' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.
All 30 nominees have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve 1972 with the crash of a plane aboard which he was personally delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 8. 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 Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder. Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award. "So many times as baseball players we're trying to get a Cy Young or MVP or stuff like that. Well, sometimes when you get a chance to do something off the field for somebody you get awarded for it, sometimes it makes you feel human and I think it allows for other people to realize that we care," said Affeldt, who will be presented with his award Sept. 15 at AT&T Park. "To many, baseball seems to be a selfish game. People think we care about our stats or ourselves and what we do, so when you get awarded for some of those things, you hope people understand that there are ballplayers out there who care about humanity and people other than themselves." A devout Christian who was raised in a Christian household and grew up going to Christian schools, Affeldt said he believes the human race is here to serve, love and help others. Despite knowing he cannot change the world alone, Affeldt is focused on doing his part through the aforementioned charities, as well as talking to San Francisco schools and homeless teens. Prior to joining the Giants, he also established the Jeremy Affeldt Foundation, which benefits youth groups across the country. Not For Sale, which Affeldt has been involved with since the fall of 2007, is an organization that assists young adults who are coming out of the world of human trafficking/slavery. He works with professors and students at the University of San Francisco to bring awareness to this issue, and this season has donated $100 to the organization for every strikeout. Generation Alive! is an organization that tries to bring world awareness to the next group of leaders and show them how they can start helping even at a young age. Between teaching them about slavery, water crisis, hunger crisis and talking to them about how fortunate they are, Affeldt said the goal of Generation Alive! is to encourage "those that have the ability to become somebody great help other people who want to be great." Affeldt, who signed with the Giants prior to the 2009 season, has always embraced charitable works, but his involvement has peaked in recent years as he has become more knowledgeable. The more educated Affeldt becomes about certain issues, the more it empowers him to want to help. At the root of his actions is his desire for others to be able to accomplish what he has or at least be able to dream about it. "Anything that kills a dream I want to try to help eliminate," Affeldt sad. "I'm not saying I'm going to eliminate it, I'm not saying I'm going to be the only guy; I just want to help people that are trying to help eliminate those areas to allow kids to be able to dream and dream big and to have a chance to accomplish great."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.