Charity has Peavy on Clemente ballot

Charity has Peavy on Clemente ballot

SAN DIEGO -- Padres ace Jake Peavy is arguably one of the best pitchers in the game today. Fans see him as the steady starter who can rack up strikeout after strikeout for them, but deep down, he's more than just a baseball player. He's an Alabama boy with a big heart.

The Mobile, Ala., native has been giving back to the community and the youth at San Diego County for several years. Peavy has involved himself in numerous charities, including Team Focus, a charity ticket program, Padres Scholars and Barry Zito's Strikeouts for Troops Foundation. Between all of these programs, he finds time to visit military bases and children's hospitals across San Diego County to wish those in need well. All of his community involvement and charity work has earned Peavy a nomination for the 2007 Roberto Clemente Award.

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. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

Peavy, 26, is one of the most personable players in the Padres clubhouse and has a knack for rallying his teammates to play bigger roles in the community. The Padres Scholars program allows players to donate money to students who are financially needy, providing them with scholarships to attend four-year universities. The total monetary gift donated by the players is matched by the franchise. Peavy was a huge force in persuading his teammates to up the ante this year. In the last two years, Peavy has donated $20,000.

"It's a great opportunity to give back to others in terms of your time and money," Peavy said. "I have a number of charitable causes I help out, and it's something I'm proud of. I want to help."

Besides making sure that college-bound teenagers have a chance at success, Peavy is also a role model to young boys in Alabama through Team Focus, his personal charity since 2004. These young men don't have father figures, but through Team Focus, 30 teens attend a camp during the offseason where they learn leadership skills, strong values and build a relationship with mentors.

Roberto Clemente Day

In 2006, the Padres organization was able to fly 30 of the boys out to San Diego, where they were took part in a five-day baseball camp at San Diego State University. Peavy was able to host them at PETCO Park, where he gave them a tour of the clubhouse.

Peavy was named an All-Star this year for the second time of his career, and he was honored as the starting pitcher for the National League team. The blue-eyed father of two continues to not only be a vital asset to charities, but to his team as well.

The right-hander, among the Major League leaders in ERA and strikeouts, was awarded the Padres Chairman Award by chairman John Moores in 2006 for his philanthropic endeavors.

A frequent visitor of children's hospitals and military bases, Peavy has participated in the San Diego Children's Hospital "Celebration of Champions" event since 2003 and always makes himself available for Make-A-Wish children at the ballpark.

"We're so blessed financially that I feel great to help out," Peavy said. "It's something I'm fortunate enough to do for my charity work in San Diego and Alabama. Anything I can do to help, I'm going to continue to do."

Elizabeth Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.