Anderson on Clemente nom: 'It means a lot'

White Sox shortstop passionate about community work

September 7th, 2020

CHICAGO -- The letters M-V-P have been attached to as a possibility with the 2020 regular season pushing to a close, based on the White Sox shortstop’s exceptional on-field performance.

We know the M and V stand for Most Valuable. But in Anderson’s case, based on his commitment to giving back to the Chicago area he now calls home year-round with his wife, Bria, and two daughters, the P could represent Person as much as Player. Anderson was named as the White Sox nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award.

“It means a lot,” said Anderson of the nomination during a recent Zoom. “It lets me know my work is not going unnoticed.

“Everything I do comes from the heart. It means a lot to be recognized for that award. I’m just going to continue to do what I do and spread love where love is needed.”

Anderson, 27, is now in the fourth year of his League of Leaders community outreach. It was created to instill leadership skills in youth affected by violence.

This program was established after his best friend, Branden Deon Moss, was shot and killed trying to help an assault victim in 2017. But this outreach is far from in name only where the Andersons are concerned, as they display a definite hands-on approach and bring a positive energy to every event they help organize or attend.

“You can just see that they are genuinely interested in people. It’s not just kind of show up and wait and walk off,” said Christine O’Reilly-Riordan, the White Sox vice president, community relations. “They are engaged, and they are engaging. That just comes from within, and that’s really cool to see.

“It’s all about the kids they meet and the conversations they have. They are just breaking it down and talking to them. Both Tim and Bria speak from personal experience. Tim’s experiences growing up, and Bria, it’s really cool … just them working together. She’s a teacher; she’s an educator. They just complement each other so much on their community outreach work.”

When COVID-19 changed the celebration of Jackie Robinson Day in mid-April, Anderson held a virtual discussion with members of the White Sox Amateur City Elite, a youth baseball travel program designed to help reverse the trend of declining participation among African-Americans in baseball. Anderson also worked with Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot to create a public service announcement on gun violence, emphasizing the need for more resources and economic opportunities in neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides.

Back in December, the Andersons gave $1,000 in holiday presents to Kelvion Jelks, a promising young player from the ACE U13 team, and his family. The Andersons approached the White Sox about helping someone at the holiday time and provided Jelks with a VIP experience at Guaranteed Rate Field along with the gifts.

“He's been doing that since being here. We're very proud of him,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Anderson, who was the team’s top pick in the 2013 Draft. “He's got a broad view of different things and he's a very compassionate person, passionate between the lines. It's nice to see that he's recognized for what he's been doing in the community.”

Of course, Anderson’s on-field accomplishments shouldn’t be overlooked. He won the 2019 MLB batting title with a .335 average and leads the American League in ’20 with a .351 average while ranking second with 34 runs scored -- despite playing six fewer games than Mike Trout, the AL leader at 35.

Anderson’s high energy and enjoyment of the game drives the White Sox, who lead the AL Central by half a game and have the third-best record in baseball entering Monday. Anderson brings that same sort of attitude toward his community work.

“Sometimes his energy makes us nervous, like when we go to the Boys & Girls Club and he starts having a basketball shootaround with a bunch of kids,” O’Reilly-Riordan said. “And we are like, ‘Oh my gosh, the baseball operations department is going to kill us if something happens.’ He brings a lot of energy.

“What I love about him is you say he’s true to his roots, but I mean like what comes from within him. He supports Tuscaloosa [Ala.] in the community where he grew up, but he’s done a ton for this city. He’s really just wired to want to do something.”