My name is Jeremy Affeldt, and I am a left-handed relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. I have a tattoo on my left forearm that says, "No man shall live for himself." Major league athletes are known for what they do on the field, but my work off the field is important to me too. In fact, if I'm going to be known for anything, I'd like to be known for what I did for other people.
The Kansas City Royals gave me my first opportunity to play at the major league level. I played with the team through my first few seasons, but they traded me to the Colorado Rockies in 2006. That trade gave me a much-needed fresh start. You see, I was really struggling. I was living my dream, but I felt unfulfilled. I kept asking myself, "Is this it? Is this all there is? You go to the field, you win or lose, you're cheered or booed, and then you go home?" I couldn't help thinking, if my work didn't have an impact on the lives of the people around me, then why do it?
I looked for answers by reading and talking to friends, including my good friend Mike King. Mike runs a youth ministry in Kansas City called Youthfront, which includes the Something to Eat program. He inspired awareness in me of the problems of extreme poverty in places like Haiti and Uganda. Then when I signed with the Giants, I looked up Dave Batstone of the University of San Francisco. Dave is a co-founder of the Not For Sale Campaign, based in San Francisco, which works to end slavery once and for all. Thinking about children and their moms and dads getting stolen from their lives and sold into slavery really tore at my heart, so I joined Team Free2Play in order to pledge a portion of my salary to help build orphanages and hospitals.
I also started a nonprofit organization in my hometown of Spokane, called Generation Alive. We create young leaders, committed to serving others and responding to the needs in their community, like poverty and human trafficking. We achieve this by working alongside area schools and delivering hands-on experiential programs that challenge young people to think outside of themselves. We have positively impacted over 25,000 young people through our Something To Eat and A.L.I.V.E Internship programs and in the process have fed more than one million hungry people. Generation Alive has also taken the Something to Eat program to East Palo Alto and other parts of the Bay Area.
Our young people have really good leadership skills. Adults follow their lead when they see young people getting excited about doing something selfless. And young people really do get excited about opportunities to give! I hear them saying, "We want to serve. We want to serve people who are hurting. We want to get outside of our own selfish needs. We want to help other people, because we have and they don't. We want to help with that." At any age, 15 years or 33 years, that's pretty exciting!
While working on these compassionate projects, I discovered my identity as a major league athlete. Wins and losses, cheering and booing, those things are exciting and wonderful, but they aren't the whole deal. When I pitch, I also pitch for people I don't even know. I pitch for people who cannot eat. I pitch for people who cannot drink. I pitch for people who do not have houses to live in. I pitch for the men, women, and children who are being sent into the world of human trafficking. And I raise my three boys to be selfless. "Follow your dreams," I tell them, "and do what you want to do. But don't do it for yourself. Do it for others. Love your neighbor as yourself!"
I've been given the ability to dream really big and to achieve at the highest level, and I've had success. But my true joy lies in finding ways to use my success to help other people succeed. Now that I understand that, I feel very fulfilled in doing what I do.
We're so excited for the Series! Thank you for supporting your teams!
This post has been modified since its original publication.