Civale follows Cookie as Clemente nominee

September 16th, 2021

In baseball, “PFP” stands for pitchers’ fielding practice. It’s a simple idea of running through drills for hurlers, knowing that they’re usually the first line of defense against ground balls. However, pitchers know that if they can’t field the ball, they have a bunch of guys behind them to back them up.

It’s a concept that Indians starter wanted to bring to everyday life. And that’s exactly what he did.

Efforts that began over the offseason to help him make an impact in Cleveland’s community have led him to being the club’s nomination for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award. And it all started with the desire to fill a void that former Indians hurler Carlos Carrasco has left.

“I know Carrasco was involved with the Cleveland Clinic and with him getting traded, that kind of left the void there and [I] wanted to keep that rolling. So we came up with the idea of Pearls for Perseverance: the acronym is PFP,” Civale said.

Drills that he has gone through countless times have now led to a charity that he and his fiancée Fran Barilla take very seriously.

“It's the same concept with Pearls for Perseverance,” Civale said. “You’re giving the best shot with whatever you're dealing with, and you know that there's a big support network behind you to take care of everything else if you can't field it yourself.”

The pearl in this case represents a baseball. Before each of his starts, Civale throws aside one of his warmup balls, gets it authenticated, signs it and ships it over to help bring smiles and positivity to patients at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Ideally we’d hand it off in person, but with COVID this year we haven't been able to do any in-person visits in the hospital,” Civale said. “Done a few video calls here and there and actually got to meet one of the patients this past Sunday at the game, after the game, and that was very cool to do that. It's very humbling to have those conversations and just know that you're making that kind of impact on someone else's life.”

Sending baseballs to patients at the Clinic has become his regular routine, but Civale has been active in the community in other ways. He partnered with Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti to host patients for batting practice at Progressive Field, while signing autographs, taking pictures and talking with the patients and their families. Over the summer, he volunteered at Camp Curiosity, a camp for kids in kindergarten through third grade focusing on STEM. It’s gestures like these that have been instilled in him since he was young.

“The way I was raised,” Civale said, “just kind of do the best that you can and give back and leaving the world a better place than when you came into it. I know that’s the way Roberto lived his life. I think if you do that, you can go to sleep comfortable with yourself at night and just do the best that you can to make everyone around you better. Just doing what you can to spread happiness. That kind of life is a little easier to live and puts everything into perspective and just keeps you going in the right direction.”

Civale had a front-row seat to seeing Carrasco take home the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award in 2019 -- a year in which Carrasco prioritized working in the community even more than his own battle with cancer. It’s what inspired Civale to begin his Pearls for Perseverance movement this year. And now, he has a chance to follow in Carrasco’s footsteps once again.

“I mean it means a lot,” Civale said. “I’m a baseball player, but just when you can take that beyond just being a baseball player, being an athlete, when you can take your platform and do something with that, I think that's something that a lot of us can do. And I think it's awesome to have this award. There are 30 nominees, but it's definitely not just 30 guys in the league that are participating in something. It's definitely very special.”