30 players, one from each club, nominated for prestigious honor
By Mark Newman
Roberto Clemente won the National League Most Valuable Player Award 50 years ago, he finished his career with 3,000 hits, led Pittsburgh to a pair of World Series titles, earned 15 All-Star selections and was one of the best right fielders in the game's history.
But as another Pirates outfielder, Andrew McCutchen, said in accepting the Roberto Clemente Award last fall, "You never hear a story about how he played the game. You always hear about how great of a person he is. I feel like what was most important to Clemente was helping others. … That's how you want to be remembered."
It is time to decide who will be remembered for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award. Major League Baseball on Tuesday announced the 30 club nominees for the annual recognition of a player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
The message is the same, but there is a twist to the award this year. Wednesday is Roberto Clemente Day all around MLB, and on that day, fans can begin participating in the new process of selecting the winner by posting any nominee's voting hashtags (see below) to Twitter and MLB and club Facebook pages.
Here are the 30 nominees, as presented by their respective clubs. Each nominee's official hashtag is included for your use.
Angels: Andrew Heaney | #VoteHeaney
In addition to his annual mission to help orphans in Honduras, the left-hander gives his time in countless ways and has donated Angels tickets this season to military members and first responders. More >
Astros: Lance McCullers | #VoteMcCullers
The right-hander and his wife Kara are passionate animal rights advocates and have participated in various community projects to save at-risk pets and place adoptions -- in addition to many other charitable efforts. More >
Athletics: Sean Doolittle | #VoteDoolittle
Doolittle works to assist U.S. military families, plays a leading role among Major Leaguers as LGBT allies, and along with girlfriend Eireann Dolan hosted 21 Syrian refugee families to an early Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Chicago. More >
Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar | #VotePillar
When he isn't diving around the outfield for Toronto, Pillar is similarly active in the community through such outreach as the Blue Jays' Winter Tour clinics or helping kids at schools and at children's hospitals across Canada. More >
Braves: Jim Johnson | #VoteJJ
Among the reliever's outreach was the creation of the Birdland Golf Classic, an annual golf tournament that has raised more than $150,000 for the Miracle League of Manasota (Fla.) as part of his efforts to help disabled youth. More >
Brewers: Ryan Braun | #VoteBraun
His $100,000 donation to the Brewers Community Foundation in 2016 is one of many highlights in a diverse community impact, from youth literacy to Habitat for Humanity to the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. More >
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright | #VoteWainwright
His goal with the Big League Impact foundation is to align with effective charities that are doing the work he believes is the most important to impact people around the world, and visits to such countries as Mexico, Honduras and Haiti have enabled him to help with clean water availability, among other significant outreach. More >
Cubs: Anthony Rizzo | #VoteRizzo
After his own cancer scare, Rizzo and his family became determined to conquer the disease by founding the nonprofit Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012. Its mission is to raise money for cancer research and to provide support to children and families battling the disease. More >
Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt, #VoteGoldy
Anyone at Phoenix Children's Hospital will know why the All-Star first baseman is nominated, given the years of humble, away-from-the-cameras hours of involvement by him and wife Amy as registered volunteers, and their creation of Goldy's Fund 4 Kids along with the D-backs Foundation to support PCH. More >
Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez | #VoteAdrian
The Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez Foundation empowers underprivileged youth in many ways, from the awarding of college scholarships to pediatric cancer support to ballpark access to low-income families and field renovations in his native Tijuana. More >
Giants: Jake Peavy | #VotePeavy
Whether using his guitar skills to raise funds for military families or to play for children's hospital patients, whether leading youth clinics or backing the Giants Community Fund and Junior Giants, Peavy is deeply involved, as he has been at each MLB city he has called home. More >
Indians: Carlos Carrasco | #VoteCookie
The Venezuelan right-hander served this summer as spokesperson for United Way's Stuff the Bus and Literacy Explosion campaigns, examples of his passion for helping youth education programs and especially literacy efforts. More >
Mariners: Robinson Cano | #VoteCano
He founded the RC22 Foundation in 2011 and has continued to make a positive impact, especially among underserved children and their families, and last November the Dominican Republic native opened an RC22 Dream School in San Pedro de Macoris, D.R. More >
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton | #VoteStanton
The game's highest-paid player gives back in many ways, notably through Boys & Girls Club efforts, the All-Star Smiles initiative for underserved kids' dental care, and the Marlins Foundation to support various charities. More >
Mets: Curtis Granderson | #VoteGrandy
One of the sport's greatest ambassadors on and off the field, he makes a major difference for inner-city kids with his Grand Kids Foundation, backs many other causes and donated $5 million to his alma mater at the University of Illinois-Chicago to help create a new baseball complex. More >
Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman | #VoteZim
His commitment to the community is best illustrated through his work with the ziMS Foundation, which he and his family founded in 2006 after his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis -- a disease he is dedicated to defeat. More >
Orioles: Adam Jones | #VoteAdam
In each of the past three years, the All-Star center fielder has teamed with the Orioles to help a different Boys & Girls Club renovate its technology center, and his support for All-Star Code youth this summer was just another recent example of a cutting-edge approach to helping kids. More >
Padres: Tyson Ross | #VoteRoss
Through The Ross Rotation, he hosts, funds and plans an event each month bringing joy to the children of the Jackie Robinson YMCA and Monarch School (kids affected by homelessness), and youth clinics and animal welfare are other key outreach programs. More >
Phillies: Ryan Howard | #VoteHoward
His mission to help kids "believe that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be" includes his creation of The Ryan Howard Big Piece Foundation, frequent visits to schools, and a significant and long-term commitment toward construction of the Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy. More >
Pirates: Jared Hughes | #VoteHughes
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2015 Roberto Clemente Award winner Andrew McCutchen, Hughes is known as the first to sign up for Pirates outreach events, walking Pirates FanFest unescorted just to chat with fans, and recording more than 200 hours of community service for the Pirates Community Commitment Program. More >
Rangers: Cole Hamels | #VoteHamels
The mission of The Hamels Foundation, which the veteran left-hander and his wife Heidi established in 2009, is to enrich the lives of children worldwide through the power of education and give them tools to achieve their goals. Hamels Heroes provides game tickets and amenities to military veterans and their guests. More >
Rays: Chris Archer | #VoteArcher
He has volunteered countless hours to outreach with more than 20 community organizations over the past several seasons, rarely missing an opportunity to utilize his All-Star platform to create a meaningful and long-lasting impact on underserved youth. More >
Red Sox: Brock Holt | #VoteBrock
Since his arrival in Boston in 2013, Holt has been involved with the Jimmy Fund, which supports Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for adult and pediatric cancer patients. More >
Reds: Michael Lorenzen | #VoteLorenzen
The No. 21 on his jersey is no coincidence. Lorenzen, a big supporter of children, strengthened his appreciation of Clemente during a service trip to Puerto Rico. More >
Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez | #VoteCarGo
He and wife Indonesia created the Carlos Gonzalez Foundation in 2014 to support charitable causes in Colorado and his native Venezuela, with a focus on helping kids to reach their goals. More >
Royals: Eric Hosmer | #VoteHosmer
His emergence on the field has paralleled his involvement in the community, where efforts include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, Royals outreach events and notably the Noah's Bandage Project. More >
Tigers: Miguel Cabrera | #VoteMiggy
Those around Cabrera know that he is much more than one of the best hitters of this generation; he generously gives his time to youth causes and the Miguel Cabrera Foundation that he and wife Rosangel established, which awards grants internationally. More >
Twins: Joe Mauer | #VoteMauer
The six-time All-Star serves as spokesman and host for the Highland Friendship Club annual bowling event to help people with developmental disabilities, and his long list of community involvement includes the renovation of a hospital play room and free accommodation of 25,000 youth and their families at Twins games 2005. More >
White Sox: Jose Abreu | #VoteAbreu
He is active with youth in the Chicago area and his native Cuba, including the launch of "Abreu's Amigos," a community program that lets students enjoy a game at Guaranteed Rate Field and develop social skills in a recreational setting. More >
Yankees: Brett Gardner | #VoteGardy
The outfielder was a charter member of the Taylor Hooton Foundation's Advisory Board to educate youth about performance-enhancing drugs, and his extensive community outreach also notably includes heavy involvement with the Ronald McDonald House in South Carolina and New York. More >
Wednesday marks the 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor the legacy of the Pirates' outfielder from Puerto Rico, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Clubs playing at home Wednesday will recognize their local nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, and visiting clubs will do so before another September home game.
As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards, and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.
Just as this entire MLB season began with a Cardinals-Pirates game at PNC Park on ESPN, the Pirates will host St. Louis for ESPN's Wednesday Night Baseball broadcast. In celebration of Roberto Clemente Day, Pirates executives and front office staff will join the Clemente family, Pirates players and wives, including McCutchen, and community representatives at Pittsburgh King PreK-8 school to distribute 650 backpacks to students.
To enhance Roberto Clemente Day and celebrate Clemente's enduring legacy in 2016, MLB has established SEAT 21 league-wide. That special seat will be designated in each ballpark on Roberto Clemente Day (or another September home game) dedicated to a well-known or local hero originally from the community who will be recognized in addition to the club's Clemente Award nominee. Recognizing individuals who embody Clemente's humanitarian spirit is a natural extension of the current honor bestowed upon players and gives MLB and the clubs the opportunity to further extend the message of service and commitment. See each team's honoree at MLB.com/seat21.
Willie Mays won the first of these honors in 1971, when it was known as the Commissioner's Award to recognize players for their philanthropic work. There are now 16 members of the Hall of Fame who are past recipients. The award was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.