HOUSTON -- The two things Geoff Blum takes more seriously than baseball are his responsibilities to his family and his community. As the father of four girls and a 12-year veteran in the Major Leagues, he understands the importance of setting a good example.
That's why Blum, nominated by the Astros for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, never turns down a chance to represent the Astros in any of their community-related endeavors, whether it's planting trees, speaking at area schools or helping to remodel a home.
"I think giving back is one of the easier things we get to do, and there's plenty of opportunity in Houston," Blum said.
Blum will be honored on the field prior to Thursday's game against the Dodgers at Minute Maid Park. 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 winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.
Blum willingly embraced the role of Astros' Play Green Ambassador when approached prior to the 2009 season, and for the past two years, has been actively involved in the program. He's worked side-by-side with Astros staff and other community leaders planting trees, building a green Habitat for Humanity home, working in a community garden and maybe most importantly to him, teaching these lessons to young kids.
Blum has also visited several elementary schools to talk to second- and third-graders about environmental responsibility, doing so in part by reading to them the books "William is Going Green" and "Miss Fox's Class Goes Green." He has even taken his own kids to the schools with him to teach them about giving back.
"I wish I could take full credit for it, but the PR people and event planners in the organization do a good job of helping out and putting me in good situations to help out in the community," he said. "Being a father of four, it's nice to talk at schools and let them know playing baseball is one thing, but giving back to the community is another thing."
In addition to his role as Play Green Ambassador, Blum has visited firefighters, thanked servicemen, visited fans in hospitals, taken part in the Astros' pet calendar project and participated in team caravans, twice coming to the rescue and going the extra mile to fill in when someone else had a last-minute conflict.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.