09/07/10 3:00 PM ET
Clemente's spirit found in Butler's campaign
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Butler and his wife Katie are very active in feeding the hungry in the Kansas City area through the Bishop Sullivan Center's St. James Place.
"It's a food kitchen where the people in Kansas City who aren't fortunate to feed their families come to get their groceries. That's where they pick it up, and every night of the week they also serve meals there. Katie and I have been there to help with that, and we enjoy doing that," Butler said.
Butler started the "Hit It A Ton" campaign two years ago, in which for each of his home runs, he donates $250 to buy a ton of food for the hungry. He also has five corporate sponsors who match that, so for every home run, six tons of food go into the program.
"Katie and I love watching the 'Hit It a Ton' campaign grow, and how much St. James Place has grown and expanded," Butler said. "We are working toward building another one in the future. The more that can be raised, the better. And we continue to raise more each year."
In addition to the home run contributions, funds come from a dinner and silent auction that is held each April. In 2009, Butler hit a career-best 21 homers for the "Hit It A Ton" campaign.
"The name's catchy, and it gets it out there," Butler said. "But we might have to change it to doubles if I keep hitting them. If I have a year where I don't hit many home runs, I'd still donate more."
Each of the Major League clubs have nominated a player for the annual award, presented since 1971 and won last year by Derek Jeter of the Yankees.
All 30 nominees have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve, 1972, with the crash of a plane aboard which he was personally delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.
Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 8.
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, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder.
Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.