It was 45 years ago this month when Roberto Clemente doubled to the wall for his 3,000th and final career hit -- three months before the plane crash that took his life as he tried to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua."I want to be remembered as a
It was 45 years ago this month when Roberto Clemente doubled to the wall for his 3,000th and final career hit -- three months before the plane crash that took his life as he tried to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
"I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give," Clemente once said.
Today the legend of Puerto Rico's favorite son is stronger than ever, and the annual Roberto Clemente Award has become "baseball's most prestigious award," according to Commissioner Rob Manfred.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball revealed the 30 club nominees for the 2017 honor, which goes to a player from each club who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
American League nominees are Chris Davis of Baltimore, Rick Porcello of Boston, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Carlos Carrasco of Cleveland, Jose Cabrera of Detroit, Jose Altuve of Houston, Andrew Butera of Kansas City, Cameron Maybin of the Los Angeles Angels (since acquired by Houston), Joe Mauer of Minnesota, Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees, Liam Hendriks of Oakland, Robinson Cano of Seattle, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, Cole Hamels of Texas, and Marcus Stroman of Toronto.
National League nominees are Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, Jason Motte of Atlanta, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Scooter Gennett of Cincinnati, Ian Desmond of Colorado, Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dee Gordon of Miami, Matt Garza of Milwaukee, T.J. Rivera of the New York Mets, Cameron Rupp of Philadelphia, Josh Harrison of Pittsburgh, Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, Hunter Renfroe of San Diego, Buster Posey of San Francisco and Ryan Zimmerman of Washington.
The list of nominees features Major Leaguers whose work in the community focuses on important issues ranging from awareness and fundraising of childhood cancer and other illnesses, education, outreach to underserved children and communities in the U.S. and abroad, care for veterans and more.
"This award represents everything Roberto stood for as a 'good Samaritan,'" said MLB goodwill ambassador Vera Clemente, Roberto's wife. "Through the Roberto Clemente Award, today's players are recognized for these same qualities."
Each club nominates one current player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character. Wednesday marks the 16th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local club nominees of the award in his honor.
Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their local nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies. Visiting clubs will honor their nominees on a subsequent homestand. 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.
There are seven 2017 All-Stars among the nominees: Goldschmidt, Altuve, Turner, Harrison, Posey, Cano and Zimmerman.
The Roberto Clemente Award winner will be selected among the group of nominees via a blue-ribbon panel that includes individuals connected to the game, including Manfred, representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS) and MLB Advanced Media, as well as Vera Clemente.
Fans will be able to vote from Oct. 2-6 for the overall Roberto Clemente Award winner. The voting page will feature bios of each of the nominees and will allow fans to easily vote by clicking on the respective nominee's name. The winner of the fan balloting will count as one vote among those cast by the blue-ribbon panel. Additional information about fan voting will be shared via MLB.com and MLB social media channels.
Maybin remains the Angels' nominee despite changing teams via waivers on Aug. 31. The Angels notified MLB after the transaction that they wanted him to retain the honor. In fact, Maybin will be returning as an Astro to Anaheim in mid-September, when the Angels were already planning to honor him.
Last year's recipient was Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson. He was like other recipients who say at each presentation that it is the most important honor of their careers, on or off the field.
"This is all part of just trying to do the legacy, like Ms. Clemente said, trying to do better each day, making it better for the next group to come up behind you," Granderson said.
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, and he is among 16 Hall of Famers who have been recipients of the honor. After 1972, the award was dedicated in Clemente's name.
More information can be found at MLB.com/clemente.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub.