Usually, baseball spring training stories focus on prospects and veterans’ batting, pitching and fielding skills. Local beat writers always predict that for the upcoming season, everything will be better this year than last.
But a recent out-of-the-ordinary story from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bradenton, Florida camp caught my eye. Los Angeles-born Chris Dickerson, a Pirates’ non-roster invitee, is an avid environmentalist.
Growing up in California, Dickerson saw plenty of environmental degradation. When he surfed on the Southern California beaches, Dickerson grew disgusted by the accumulated bottles and cans discarded as trash. In 2008 as a member of the Triple-A Louisville Bats, Dickerson challenged his teammates not to drink from plastic water bottles. As encouragement, he bought them 50 aluminum reusable bottles. Last year with the Baltimore Orioles, Dickerson rode his bike to Camden Yards when the team played home games.
Dickerson’s increasing environmental awareness led to him co-founding Players for the Planet with former San Diego Padres and Houston Astro pitcher Jack Cassell. Saying that he’s at a point in his life where he wants to “do something positive,” Dickerson hopes to promote a “sense of urgency” in all Americans to protect the environment “for generations and generations to come.” The website includes “Green Tips,” and has the endorsement of 35 prominent baseball and football players.
We’re used to seeing the excesses of so many professional athletes who earn multi-million dollar salaries, drive gas-guzzling SUVs and live in resource inefficient mansions like Derek Jeter’s 31,000-square foot Tampa Bay palace. So it’s refreshing and inspiring to see clubhouse encouragement to work on behalf of saving the planet.