In addition to impressing the baseball world by becoming the 21st (Frank Thomas), 22nd (Alex Rodriguez), 23rd (Jim Thome) and 24th (Manny Ramirez) players to join the legendary 500 Home Run, “Big Frank”, “A-Rod”, "The Thomenator" and "Man Ram" are impressive gentlemen. Each has worked diligently to maintain a positive lifestyle and highly productive career, while also pursuing philanthropic endeavors that improve the lives of their fans and fellow players.
Ramirez Plans to Auction 500th Home Run Ball for Children’s Hospital
After the Bo-Sox fan who caught his 500th home run ball (Damon Woo) presented it to Manny Ramirez following the game, Ramirez said he would auction it to benefit the Boston's Franciscan Hospital for Children.
"What I want to do with the ball is take some pictures with my kid," Ramirez said. "I don't want to keep the ball. I want to see how much money someone can put into the hospital that I'm donating $1,000 for each home run."
Ramirez’s first donation to the hospital came when he donated his custom-built 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible to the hospital, just days after winning the 2007 World Series title. He also teamed with the Red Sox in 2001 to donate $1 million to area programs for Latino youth.
A-Rod Earns Straight A’s for Citizenship
In 1998, Alex Rodriquez founded The AROD Family Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to positive impacting families in distress by support programs that focus on improved quality of life, families and mental health. His foundation works extensively with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami, hosting an annual dinner to raise money for that organization. Since then, Rodriguez has made numerous large donations to organizations that service children and families that are at risk, including a $200,000 donation to The Children’s Aid Society in 2005 that benefited its School-Based Mental Health Services.
“I'm committed to making a difference in this community,” said Rodriguez. “Having been born in Washington Heights (Harlem), I am deeply concerned about the alarming rate of youth suicide. The Health Center provides mental health services free of charge to those children in need.” Rodriguez plans to make mental health wellness a lifelong philanthropic endeavor.
In addition, Rodriguez, who serves as a Boys & Girls Clubs of America national spokesperson and appears in their bilingual PSA campaign, founded the Alex Rodriguez Learning Center in his childhood home of Miami in late 2004.
“Big Hurt” Is Anything But Hurtful to Kids/Fans
The “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas was given his imposing nickname by Chicago White Sox TV commentator Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, not because he hurt anyone, but rather for the hurtin’ he can put on a baseball. On the contrary, Thomas is by all estimations a ‘gentle giant’ who established the Frank Thomas Charitable Foundation in 1993 to improve the lives of Chicago-area residents by raising money through activities including a golf tournament, dinner gala, memorabilia auction, autograph event and Big Hurt merchandise sales.
He also created the "Big Hurt's Buddies" program to supply hundreds of free tickets to fans. But the charity that is perhaps closest to his heart is the Leukemia Society America. Thomas donates $50,000 annually to LSA in memory of a younger sister who passed away from the disease when he was 10.
Thome Takes Swing at Prostate Cancer
Chicago White Sox designated hitter Big Jim Thome is the spokesperson for the "One-A-Day Men's Presents the MLB Strike Out Prostate Cancer Challenge, “ created in 2007 as part of an exclusive partnership between Major League Baseball and the vitamin company. As part of the program, One-A-Day and MLB have committed to donate $10 for every strikeout throughout the 2008 Major League Baseball season to the Prostate Cancer Foundation - the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research.
To date the program has raised $106,120 and an additional $1 million will be donated if any one pitcher achieves 21 strikeouts in a nine-inning game to set a new MLB record. The goals of the program are to raise funds to support research to find a cure for prostate cancer and to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining prostate health through proper nutrition and early detection of problems.
"Prostate cancer affects far too many men each year including members of my own family," said Thome, who pointed out that Prostate cancer is a disease one in every six men will be diagnosed with during his lifetime. "So, getting involved in this program with One-A-Day was a no brainer. I want to do all I can to spread the word.”