CLEVELAND -- Grady Sizemore groans when the topic of his coaching skills comes up. They say those who can't do, teach, and sometimes the reverse is true, as well. Sizemore -- the Indians' 30-30 man, Gold Glove-winner and All-Star -- most assuredly can do. Teaching, then, is not his specialty.
"I'm a much better player than coach," he says matter-of-factly.But that didn't stop Sizemore -- the Indians' nominee for the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet -- from doing his best impression of a coach earlier this summer, at an RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) baseball and health education clinic at Progressive Field. In doing so, Sizemore no doubt made an impression on the 1,000 RBI participants, ages 10-14, who took part in the event. "You try to give back any way you can," Sizemore says. "Helping out with the kids is something that's fun for me, and hopefully they can get a lot out of it and learn something about the game -- and teamwork, in general." Sizemore has been teaming up with the Indians on their charitable endeavors for a while now. When he signed a historic six-year contract with the Tribe just before the start of the 2006 season, Sizemore included in the deal a generous annual donation to Cleveland Indians Charities (CIC). Money donated to CIC helps the organization develop and enhance youth-oriented activities and agencies that seek to make a positive impact on education and recreation programs throughout Northeast Ohio.
Sizemore also recently became CIC's spokesperson for youth baseball and softball, and he participated in an equipment drive for the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. Such activity in the community follows the lead of Clemente, the former Pirates outfielder who is often remembered as much for his goodwill as his incredible exploits on the field. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972. The Clemente Award annually recognizes a player whose community involvement, sportsmanship and contribution to his team best exemplifies Clemente's spirit. Last year's winner was Craig Biggio of the Astros. The last Indians player to win the award was Jim Thome in 2002. Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 5 at MLB.com. 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, Roberta's widow. The winner will be announced during the World Series. That he is even being considered for an award named after Clemente means a lot to Sizemore. "He was one of those guys who paved the way for Latin players and was a good role model for all baseball players," Sizemore says. "There wasn't anything he couldn't do -- not just on the field but also off the field. He was an icon, so it's an honor to be a part of something like that." But Sizemore earned this consideration by becoming such a big part of the Indians' efforts to reach out to the Northeast Ohio community. "It's my responsibility as a key member of the team and the organization," he says. "They put a lot of stock in me as a player and as a person. You want to give back and do what you can to help those that are less fortunate. You want to help create good environments for kids and athletes who are trying to make it." Even if it means doing a little coaching.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.