Chris Dickerson just had the biggest hit of the Orioles season. He waltzed around the bases after a three-run home run that sparked an exciting comeback win over the Detroit Tigers.
On that Friday night, you might have expected Dickerson to drive into a downtown hotspot with his Lexus SUV or Mercedes to do some celebrating.
Instead, he rode his bicycle home, unrecognized.
“That’s the best part. I don’t anybody would ever expect a professional athlete to be riding a bike to and from the field,” Dickerson said.
“I can remember we had a sellout the night I had the walkoff. The streets were just mobbed, full of people. I’m sitting there waiting for the light to turn green. People sitting there had no clue. It was great.”
The fans not only didn’t know that Dickerson was riding his bike, but that he’s a fervent environmentalist. Along with former major league pitcher Jack Cassell, Dickerson runs Players for the Planet, trying to use his influence to raise awareness.
“I skateboarded to the park for the first two weeks. Then I upgraded, and I’ve been biking to the park,” Dickerson said.
“I’ve asked the great people at the Global Sports Alliance to track how much I’m saving on my carbon footprint, and how much I’m reducing on my gas and waste. Every day, it’s a short ride to and from the ballpark. I get to cut down on gas for the summer. It’s been great. I’m kind of glad I don’t have my car.”
Dickerson isn’t advocating you do away with your car. He just wants you to become more environmentally conscious.
He’s working on an event in Baltimore, an area that is already sensitive because of the Chesapeake Bay. Along with Brian Matusz, a fellow green teamer, Dickerson, who often warms up for games wearing soccer uniforms and kicking a ball, is planning for a players “War on Waste” like the one he had when he played for the Cincinnati Reds.
“We had such a great response in Cincinnati and other places. When guys are coming out and taking stuff from cars, people bringing out their old TVs, computers, hard drives,” Dickerson said. “I’ve got a great response. It should be a turnout if we can get this going, we’ll have a lot of guys participating. “
Dickerson inherited his environmental background from his father. In Southern California, his dad was a recycler, and when he started going to the beach, he was angered by waste.
“[I] saw all the stuff that was left behind, the irresponsibility of putting away our waste, plastic bags, bottles, cans, floating in our ocean, and then from an industrial standpoint, reducing toxic materials, being responsible for where those are let out, all the development kind of rushed into the water,” Dickerson said.
“You’d go out there and guys would get sick, really sick from all the stuff that was in the water. It was a number of different occurrences, soccer teams, kids wouldn’t show up because the smog level was too high in LA.”
When he got into pro ball, he watched former Vice President Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
“That was a real eye-opener for me as far as what’s going on and where we’re headed if we don’t do something,” Dickerson said.
By then, he was in Triple-A, and saw that there was a lot he could do. Unlike the lower minors where players brought their own drinks, in Triple-A, there were refrigerators stocked with bottled drinks.
“In July when it gets really hot, they’ll go through four, five, six bottles a day. They take them, they leave them out to the field, they throw them out in the trash can. They throw them out in the clubhouse without a second thought,” Dickerson said.
He saw an ad for SIGG bottles and ready a Time magazine article about the environment, and he was more fervent than ever.
“I wanted to find a way to make a footprint on it, and so I contacted SIGG and I asked them to send us 15 reusable water bottles to try and reduce our use in the clubhouse,” Dickerson said.
“I got to the big leagues that year, and by the time I got there, I already these fan signs, kind of like a green fan club, and I kind of discovered the buzz that there was a concern among sports fans and everybody that something needed to be done to make a change somehow.”
Today, Dickerson has 50 players helping.
“It’s just gone from just doing reusable water bottles to reaching out to high schools, providing recycling bins, waste bins. It’s a process, and we’re continuing to grow, continuing to come up with new ideas in that environmental spectrum,” Dickerson said.