CLEVELAND -- Brad Hand grew up with parents who were actively involved in volunteering in their community. And as the Indians' closer began his successful baseball career, he knew he’d have an even bigger platform to use to follow in their footsteps. But most important, he wants his two young
CLEVELAND -- Brad Hand grew up with parents who were actively involved in volunteering in their community. And as the Indians' closer began his successful baseball career, he knew he’d have an even bigger platform to use to follow in their footsteps. But most important, he wants his two young children, Lila and Cuyler, to understand the importance of giving back.
Hand has been engaged in the Cleveland community since he created his Helping Hands foundation prior to the 2019 season. And after two years of finding ways to impact local youth baseball and softball players and families in need, Hand was selected to be the Indians’ nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award.
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“A lot of it comes from just having two little kids,” Hand said, “trying to bring them up the right way and trying to get them involved and to be around those other kids and see. My oldest one is kind of starting to understand it a little bit now. So it's cool to see her understand what she's doing.
“It's just the way that I was brought up and my wife was brought up. Trying to bring our kids up that way and teach them to have respect and treat people the way you want to be treated. I think that goes a long way.”
What began as an initiative to help the Cleveland chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America has now expanded to giving back to other local youth baseball and softball organizations and a partnership with OhioGuidestone, a foster care and family services organization, to reach even more families in the area.
“We've got a few more of the visits that we're doing with the Helping Hands and the OhioGuidestone,” Hand said of his upcoming plans. “We have one or two more to finish the year off. … It's difficult that we have to do it on Zoom or whatever, but just still finding ways to be able to do it even though we can't go visit them in person.”
This year has certainly presented its challenges for Hand, who’s been doing his best to use Zoom video calls to make his charity work just as impactful without being on site. So when he found out earlier this year that local youth baseball programs were shutting down due to COVID-19, he immediately told the Indians he wanted to help.
The Tribe stepped in and provided the leagues with a six-week program that they could follow instead of having their usual games. In order for them to do that, Hand donated $3,500 worth of equipment, including bases, bats and hitting cages, while also providing 150 new gloves -- one for each kid in the program. As the equipment was distributed to the children during one of their practices, Hand was able to jump on a Zoom call to make the experience even sweeter with a personal Q&A session.
“I think one of the kids asked me about giving up a home run the night before,” Hand said with a laugh. “It’s just funny. They’re just having fun. … It’s just funny to hear some of the questions that they have. That’s the joy of being a kid, though, so it was cool to see.”
Hand has started to branch out from supporting youth baseball organizations, too. He has met virtually with five families from Stepstone Academy and donated $2,500 toward programming at their school, residential housing and rehabilitation center. Earlier this year, he also organized a drive-in-style watch party for an Indians game for nine adults living in OhioGuidestone’s drug and alcohol rehab unit, sending hats, shirts and autographed balls to the families in attendance.
Hand is no stranger to the Clemente process after watching his teammate, Carlos Carrasco, win the award last year after all his work in the Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Venezuelan communities, especially during his own battle with cancer. Whether the outcome will be the same for Hand this year remains to be seen, but the reliever is honored to have been selected as the representative for the Tribe.
“It's a special award,” Hand said. “It's cool to be able to be the award winner for our team.”
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.