Liam Hendriks continues to make a difference without throwing a pitch.
In ballpark after ballpark this season, the Chicago White Sox reliever has met with families affected by cancer.
Major League Baseball announced last week that Hendriks, who made an inspirational return to the mound after battling stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, had been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award.
“Being able to get nominated is a huge honor,” Hendriks said last week in Detroit. “It’s not why you do things. But it’s always nice to be recognized. Life hits you and you can run with it, which is what we’ve done and tried to make good of it.”
The Clemente Award is presented to a major-league player who best represents the game “through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field,” according to the website associated with the honor. The winner will be announced during the World Series.
Hendriks has been the club’s nominee for three straight years.
“The legacy Roberto Clemente has left behind, it’s enduring,” he said. “It’s something that everyone can strive toward. This is one of those awards where it has nothing to do with talent. It has a lot to do with compassion and giving and making sure you use your platform for good.”
Hendriks will be recognized before the game Friday — which is World Lymphoma Awareness Day — against the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Also Friday, Hendriks and his wife, Kristi, are teaming with DJ Pauly D of MTV “Jersey Shore” fame for a fundraising tailgate event at 4 p.m. in Lot B at Guaranteed Rate.
All proceeds go toward benefiting Be The Match, a community comprising donors, volunteers, health care professionals and researchers who work together to provide lifesaving marrow transplants to those in need. Ticket information can be found at whitesox.com/liamtailgate.
“Pauly has been fantastic with it all,” Hendriks said. “We reached out and it was a straight-up yes very, very quickly. Excited to meet him and work together and excited for an opportunity to raise awareness and hopefully get some people on the registry who can help save somebody’s life.”
“Here’s a guy who is going through unbelievable difficulty and adversity and he still has time to serve others,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “That’s an unbelievable testament to his character and integrity and what he’s about.
“You go through cancer and a Tommy John and you’re still focused on other people. He deserves everything in the world. He’s a great person and he cares for others. It’s great to be around him. That’s why he’s here. He’s on the (injured list) and he won’t pitch this year, but we want him here with us.”
Hendriks has gotten a lot out of the conversations at the various ballparks.
“The Dodgers were the first one we did (in June) and they went above and beyond,” he said. “The organizations we’ve gone to since have been following suit. You talk to people who have gone through it and you have a similar story. It’s refreshing. It takes a load off your shoulders.
“A lot of it is adolescent or young adult, so we’ve been really stressing trying to remove the stigma from the word cancer. Talk about it with your friends. Say the word cancer. Say the word chemotherapy. We need to remove that initial shutter.”
The Hendrikses teamed with the Sox to help raise more than $100,000 for lymphoma research through the sale of “Close Out Cancer” T-shirts.
“There are people going through this on a daily basis, there’s people in the hospital once a week for the rest of their lives going through this but they are battling and they are fighting it out and taking it to it,” Hendriks said. “That’s all we can do. Hopefully we can raise a little bit of awareness and funding, and hopefully at some point we can get a cure for most types.
“Any kind of awareness and funding we can raise is huge.”
White Sox drop series opener to Twins
The Sox fell to a season-worst 35 games under .500 on Thursday after a 10-2 loss to the Twins in front of 13,233 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Andrew Vaughn hit a two-run homer for the Sox (56-91), who have lost 10 of 13.