Adrian Gonzalez had a few teachers who were "very important" in his boyhood, spent in Tijuana, Mexico, and Bonita, Calif. Soon his two young girls will both be in school, and the Dodgers' first baseman is thinking about how to honor educators in a new way.
"It's very important. We all have that favorite teacher we remember, who really helped us in an important way," Gonzalez said. "Teachers are a big instrument in our education and our growing up and just becoming a better person overall, so it's always great to be able to recognize them and let them know they are appreciated and always thought of."
Gonzalez and Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran are the player spokesmen for the "Target Presents People All-Star Teachers" campaign, which was announced on Monday by Major League Baseball, Target and People magazine. Nominations are underway through May 6 at AllStarTeachers.com for the campaign, which celebrates remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities.
Nominees will have the chance to represent their favorite team and be honored during the pregame ceremony before the All-Star Game on July 15 on FOX. MLB previously has honored everyday community heroes and military in this way at the Midsummer Classic.
MLB, Target and People will review nominations and select three teachers per MLB team, with the 90 finalists to be announced on June 5. From June 5-29, fans will be encouraged to visit AllStarTeachers.com to read nominees' submission stories and vote for their favorite teachers. All 30 winners, one representing each club, will be announced during All-Star Week.
Winners will be included in All-Star Week activities. In addition to the pregame recognition for all the winning teachers, one winner will be featured in People during All-Star Week. The campaign is just one part of the effort by Target and MLB to celebrate teachers and raise awareness about the importance of education this season.
"For 40 years, People has celebrated amazing educators who are changing the lives of their students and paving the way for a new generation of American leaders," said Jess Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly.
People publisher Karen Kovacs added: "We are excited to continue our longstanding relationship with MLB, an organization that shares Time Inc.'s commitment to recognizing outstanding teachers. We thank Target for their participation, and encourage all fans and readers to nominate a teacher who has made a positive impact in their lives."
Beltran was named the winner of the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet for his positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. He and wife Jessica founded the Carlos Beltran Foundation with the mission of empowering young people to achieve their dreams through sports and education. The foundation strives to provide a dynamic learning experience where young people can develop and enhance their athletic gifts and excel academically.
"I am truly blessed and humbled that Target has asked me to participate in a campaign that means so much to my family," Beltran said. "My wife Jessica and I built the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy from the ground up and understand the importance that quality educators bring to young children today. I couldn't be more excited to work with Target, MLB and People in honoring the true superstars, our teachers."
Gonzalez married high school sweetheart Betsy, and their foundation is focused on empowering underprivileged youth in areas of athletics, education and health. Gonzalez also supports education with the Adrian Gonzalez Scholarship Program that was founded in San Diego, continued in Boston and will start in Los Angeles in 2014. The program provides financial assistance to underprivileged students attending four-year colleges and universities. Scholarships are granted to students from low- to middle-income families with strong academic records who are involved in a balance of community, school and work activities with a focus on community service. More than 50 Adrian Gonzalez scholars are in college, and the graduation rate is above 90 percent.
"I am really excited about my partnership with Target, which gives me an opportunity to get further involved in the education of our youth," Gonzalez said. "My wife Betsy and I have always had a passion and hunger for the education of young people. In fact, one of the tiers in our foundation is education. We currently have over 50 students on scholarship through our scholarship fund. I am looking forward to doing amazing work along with Target, MLB, and People with this program."
In addition to their efforts engaging fans to participate in this campaign, Beltran and Gonzalez will join Target and MLB in sharing stories about education's role in shaping our future and attend Target-hosted events in MLB communities throughout the first half of the season.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.