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09/03/08 1:55 AM ET

Teahen nominated for Clemente Award

Royals slugger is active in work with special-needs children

KANSAS CITY -- Mark Teahen fills big shoes as the Royals' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet. He succeeds his good friend, Mike Sweeney.

"It's good company to be in," Teahen said. "I'm very happy that I got nominated for it. It's nice to know some of the work you do in the community gets recognized a little bit. And, ultimately, because I was nominated some more money is getting donated to Challenger baseball so it's good for everybody."


On Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium, Teahen will be recognized as the Royals' Clemente nominee and will receive a $7,500 check from Chevrolet for the charity of his choice.

Since 2006, Teahen has been the Kansas City spokesman and an active fundraiser for the Challenger Division of Little League Baseball, a program that enables physically and mentally challenged children to play the game on custom-designed fields. The local program, administered by the YMCA, is building a facility in north KC.

"Before I got involved with Challenger I really hadn't worked with any special needs kids so I wasn't sure exactly how I would take to it," Teahen said.

But Teahen, with his boyish grin and easy manner, quickly fell in love with the kids and their dreams of playing his game. He wanted to help.

"Seeing these kids get the opportunity to play baseball, make friends and experience the joy of getting on the field and competing is really fulfilling," Teahen said. "I feel like I'm getting far more in return than I'm putting out there."

Teahen put together a benefit fashion show last January in KC, with 11 teammates and their ladies treading the runway, that raised $75,000 for the YMCA Challenger project. He plans another event next January.

He credits Royals associates, his teammates and friends with doing much of the work but Teahen took an active role, overseeing every element of the fundraiser.

"I would never just put my name on something and hope it goes OK. If I'm going to get involved in something I'm going to make sure that I have a say in it and do everything I can to make it a success," he said.

Teahen is as versatile in charity work as he is on the field for the Royals. He's played all the outfield positions, first base and third base for the club -- wherever he can help -- while continuing to be one of the top offensive threats.

He was told this story about his YMCA Challenger baseball efforts:

"A boy was watching TV with his family and I came on to promote the event last year and I was talking about Challenger baseball and he was yelling to his mom, 'Hey, Mark Teahen's on TV talking about my team!'" Teahen said.

"Just to hear stuff like that, you're not always sure how much the kids get out of it. You see their smiles and see how much fun they're having but for them to be aware of it and call it 'his team' and feel like he's really part of something makes me feel good about doing anything I can to help."

At an auction event, Teahen donated an autographed bat and ball and ultimately placed the winning bid himself so he could present the package to a Challenger youngster who was celebrating a birthday.

He has a huge heart for kids.

• He's donated time to the Royals AbilityCAMP, an interactive baseball camp for kids with physical or developmental disabilities.
• He donated sweatshirts for children and families supported by the City Union Mission in Kansas City and purchased new equipment for their playroom.
• He's been an instructor for Royals youth instructional clinics and at the club's first Youth League Day at Kauffman Stadium this year.
• He participates in broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre's Gloves for Kids which raises money to buy baseball equipment for disadvantaged children.
• He can always be counted on to welcome terminally or chronically ill children from The Dream Factory at each Wednesday home game.
• He supports the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation and granted the wish of a child with a brain injury through the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2007.

"I guess I do focus more on kids because I know what you're surrounded by as a youngster helps you develop into the grown-up you want to be. So if I can help a little bit there, it's great," Teahen said.

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 always will be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.

Last year's winner was Craig Biggio of the Astros.

Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 5. 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 MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

"I know I'm not in the same category but just to be mentioned with Roberto Clemente is a big honor and it's nice to be recognized in that way," Teahen said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.