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The Cubs Are People, Too

Former Cub Ted Lilly, pitching against the Cubs on Wednesday, is one of the classiest men in baseball.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Former Cub Ted Lilly, pitching against the Cubs on Wednesday, is one of the classiest men in baseball. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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It's an off day, with not much happening in Cubs World.

So let's take a break from crunching rosters and lineups and numbers and remember that baseball players -- for all their privileges and millions -- are people with real lives, and are probably very much enjoying this day off, the Cubs hopefully with their families.

I was reminded of this when the Dodgers were in town a couple of weeks ago and former Cub Ted Lilly said this about Ryan Dempster:

"I can’t sit here and tell you how much respect I have for him for a person first and foremost in what I was able to learn from being around him about the way that he treated people, the way that he loved this opportunity to pitch in the major leagues, the way he would deal with adversity off the field and on the field."

Then Lilly caught himself.

"I could kind of ... wow... without getting emotional, I don’t know how anyone could have created someone that was as unselfish as Ryan," he said.

We all know about the troubles Ryan Dempster's daughter Riley had at birth -- she's now doing quite well -- and the Dempsters, who have made no secret about saying that they'll be fine in part because of the millions he makes playing baseball, have unselfishly devoted many hours of their time to creating the Dempster Family Foundation to help those in similar situations who aren't as fortunate as he is.

He's not the only one who's done class things like this. The Cubs run their own charitable arm, and recently donated more than $1 million to various local organizations:

The 2011 grants include $304,000 to the Chicago Park District to provide funding for more than 13,000 low-income and special needs youth to play baseball this summer. A donation to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago ($65,000) will provide access to physical activity programs and wheelchair softball for nearly 1,500 individuals with physical disabilities. A contribution to the Chicago Public Library Foundation ($50,000) supports the Family Summer Reading program, a high-impact summer reading initiative which aims to keep 50,000 Chicago children reading and learning over the summer.

The latest entry into the charitable world is being made by Kerry Wood, noted in the new edition of Vine Line -- not online, unfortunately. Kerry is soon going to launch the Wood Family Foundation; says the Vine Line article:

For the last 10 years, Kerry and Sarah Wood have been ambassadors to several worthy Chicago children's charities, raising over $2M and generating awareness for these causes.

This summer, they'll be launching the Wood Family Foundation, whose mission is to create, find and support programs that improve the emotional health and well-being of Chicago's children in need.

When this foundation does get its work under way, I'm hoping to do a BCB fundraising event for them. Stay tuned, and don't ever forget that while baseball players do make many millions of dollars, many of them right here in Chicago do give back to their community. For that, we should be grateful.