SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain learned so many important lessonsfrom his grandfather, Guy Miller, and gripping a curveball was just one ofthem.
Cains grandfather passed away in February, 12 years afterhe suffered a debilitating stroke. He required advanced care and resided inassisted living facility, which the family could afford.
But Cain and his wife, Chelsea, would wonder on occasion:What about the people who cant?
Thats why Project Open Hand is so important to us, saidCain, who was named the Giants nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, givento the major leaguer who best demonstrates represents the game of baseballthrough positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanshipand community involvement.
For so many people simple things in life are not so simplelater on. Even something as simple as delivering meals to people who need themcan make a difference.
Cain also devotes time and his endorsement to the GreaterBay Area chapter of Make-A Wish, Until Theres A Cure, the No H8 Campaign andthe Junior Giants program. Animal welfare is important to the Cains as well,which is why they volunteer for PAWS in San Francisco.
And two years ago, Cain was so moved by teammate JeremyAffeldts project to build an orphanage in Uganda that he signed on to help.The 10-house complex, each of which houses 10 children, opened earlier thisyear in the Gulu District not far from borders with war-torn Sudan and theDemocratic Republic of the Congo.
Affeldt, whose mission is to end human slavery andtrafficking, said many orphans are stolen or recruited to fight for the LordsResistance Army (LRA), led by demagogue and convicted war criminal Joseph Kony.
These kids could be killing people, Affeldt said. Manyof them have had their families shot and killed in front of them. Were tryingto give them a safe place where they can learn some life skills and just befree to play.
Said Cain: When I heard about it, I wanted to jump intothat. Especially now having (their daughter) Hartley, its put things inperspective and were getting involved in more childrens causes. If makingsure they have clean water, simple things like that, is something we can do, Iwant to do it.
Affeldt, the Giants Clemente nominee the previous twoseasons, was happy to see Cain recognized for his efforts in the community.
What he and Chelsea do, they do because they have a heartfor it, Affeldt said. Roberto Clementes vision is to help those in need.When Matt signed for the amount of money he signed for, I know he wasntthinking, This is for me. Its about providing for other people.
So Im very proud of him. You can be a great baseballplayer, but if youre not a good person, it really doesnt matter much. We allknow Cainer is a great person.
Affeldt is taking a speaking trip this winter to Korea(Korean women are the most commonly trafficked sex slaves in the world) andthen will visit a village in Thailand, where he financed the construction of abasketball court in a center for rescued children. Eventually, he wants tovisit Uganda, as does Cain.
Cain was stunned when he saw the movie, Machine GunPreacher, about an American crusader for exploited children in Sudan.
Thats a long way from where he grew up on the horse farmsoutside Memphis, Tenn. But because of the guidance he received growing up, he cares about whats happening halfway around the world
My granddad, and my dad, helped me learn to be a man,Cain said. They paved the way to help me become the person I am.
Fans can vote for the Clemente Award recipient of theirchoice at MLB.comClementeAward. The fan vote winner will receive one voteamong those cast by a selection panel. The recipient will be announced duringthe World Series.