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Zimmerman earns Clemente Award nomination

Nationals third baseman up for prestigious honor for second straight year

WASHINGTON -- For the second consecutive year, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was named the Nationals' 2013 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award.

Tuesday is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, a day instituted on the 30th anniversary of his passing in 1972 to keep alive Clemente's spirit of giving. Voting runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 6 at as fans help decide which of those 30 club winners will receive this prestigious recognition. The nominees were chosen based on their dedication to giving back to the community, as well as their outstanding ability on the field.

Zimmerman's commitment to the community is best illustrated through his work with the ziMS Foundation, which he founded in 2006, his first full season in the Major Leagues. The ziMS Foundation aims to raise money for multiple sclerosis awareness and programs benefiting those afflicted with the disease.

Serving as president, Zimmerman is actively involved in and donates his time, money and image to promoting the foundation. The foundation holds several fundraising events annually, including ziMS Funfest, the Golf and Gala and the popular Night at the Park held at Nationals Park. Zimmerman's community outreach also includes visits to local children's hospitals several times each season.

There is a reason Zimmerman is dedicated to raising money for multiple sclerosis awareness. His mother, Cheryl, has been afflicted with multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system, since 1995.

During the first five years of her illness, Cheryl was able to work as a teacher, but it grew worse by 2000. She is now confined to a wheelchair.

Zimmerman said his mom's illness helped him become even-keeled throughout his life. It explains why one never sees him get angry with the media.

"That's a big part of it," Ryan said not too long ago. "Me and my brother [Shawn] had to do some things that younger kids wouldn't have to do. We were not the only kids that ever had to deal with something like that. That added to my [composure]. I don't get too high or too low.

"Before that, that's the way we were brought up. That's the way my parents were when we were young. I just think it rubbed off on us."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman