NEW YORK -- Thousands of baseball fans participated in an Internet poll
on MLBPLAYERS.com between September 5 and 10, to determine which six
players, one from each division, inspire others to higher levels of
achievement by their on-field performances and contributions to their
communities. From this list of 30 players, Mike Mussina (NY Yankees)
was tabbed to represent the AL East, Jim Thome (Chicago White Sox) the
AL Central, Barry Zito (Oakland A's) the AL West, John Smoltz (Atlanta Braves) the NL East, Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals) the NL Central
and Nomar Garciaparra (Los Angeles Dodgers) the NL West.
These six players will have their names placed on the 2006 Players
Choice Awards ballots to determine this season's Marvin Miller Man of
the Year. Ballots will be distributed to all Major League players on
Tuesday, September 12 and Wednesday, September 13, when the accounting
firm of KPMG conducts the league-wide, players-only voting for the 2006
Players Choice Awards. Also on those days, all Major League players will
be voting for their league's outstanding rookie, pitcher, player, and
comeback player as well as the overall Outstanding Player of the Year.
Each Players Choice Award winner will designate the charity of his
choice to receive a grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust.
Winners will be announced following the season.
Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals was the recipient of the 2005 Man
of the Year Award for his on-field leadership and commitment to the
Kansas City community. As well as being a spokesman for the "Enjoy the
Game" program, Mike worked closely with the local Boys & Girls Club,
the Children's Mercy Hospital, and the Sweeney Family Foundation. Past
winners of the award, named for the legendary baseball union leader,
also include Jim Thome, John Smoltz, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Eric Davis and Paul Molitor.
2006 Players Choice Marvin Miller Man of the Year Divisional Winners:
Oakland Athletics - Barry Zito: Barry recruited dozens of other big
league players to join the 'Strikeouts for Troops' program that he
initiated in 2005. The program is designed to benefit war wounded
troops being treated at Walter Reed, Besthesda Naval, and other
military hospitals. The funds raised are used to provide injured
soldiers comforts of home in an effort to assist their recovery as well
as travel and housing expenses for patients' families. The program has
continued through the 2006 season and Barry has stepped up his
donations to $200 for every strikeout he records.
St. Louis Cardinals - Albert Pujols: A finalist for the 2005 Man of the
Year award, Albert and his wife Deidre are the founders of the Pujols
Family Foundation, which is dedicated to the love, care and development
of people with Down Syndrome and their families. Albert annually hosts a
charity golf tournament to raise money for the foundation. The Pujols
family dedicates their time not only to those with Down Syndrome, but
also to the impoverished children and orphans of the Dominican Republic
by donating money and time for education and gifts.
Los Angeles Dodgers - Nomar Garciaparra: Nomar established the Nomar 5
Foundation in 2000, which has continued to support organizations that
work for the well-being of children. Nomar participated in the 2006
Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge, which raised money for
each home run hit in games from June 7th to June 18th, by donating
autographed memorabilia to raise money and speaking at stadium events
to increase awareness of prostate cancer. During the off-season, he
visited local middle schools and Little League organizations as part of
the Dodgers Caravan.