Suter up for Clemente Award for 2nd time

Brewers' reliever pursuing passion project of environmental conservation

September 15th, 2021

DETROIT -- considers it the most impactful two hours of his life to date.

He was a sophomore in high school in 2006 when he watched “An Inconvenient Truth,” the documentary film about former Vice President Al Gore's campaign to educate the public about the impacts of climate change. It so impacted Suter that he majored in environmental science and public policy while also playing baseball at Harvard, and while the Brewers offered an opportunity to continue pitching after they drafted him in the 31st round in 2012, environmental causes have remained a passion for Suter off the field.

It’s that work that earned Suter a high honor this week for the second consecutive year. He is the Brewers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is presented annually to the player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field.

Fans can vote for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award via (English) and (Spanish), through the end of the regular season on Oct. 3. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by a blue-ribbon panel that will select the league-wide winner of the award.

“He was an unbelievable person and unbelievable player, and the more you hear about him the more you learn,” Suter said. “The biggest skill and passion he had was helping people, and that’s how he died -- just being a good person and bringing a lot to the world.”

Gore’s film, Suter said, “kind of knocked me upside the head when I saw what was happening to the planet and our impact on it and the causes of it. From then on, it was in my heart to study it in college, and then I knew I wanted to do something -- whether it was using baseball as a platform for that or going into the environmental sector professionally. It’s something that will never go away and I don’t ever want it to go away, because this problem isn’t going away. The climate problems we’re dealing with are getting worse and worse, so we hopefully can be a part of the solution.”

Suter’s MLB career has offered a platform for him to spread the word about a number of environmental challenges, particularly the global crisis of plastic waste. Suter has served as an active member and ambassador for Players for the Planet since 2019, participating in cleanup projects around the world and making a series of appearances on behalf of Major League Baseball on Earth Day. He supports environmental groups including Milwaukee Urban Ecology, the Outrider Foundation, ECO in the City of Milwaukee and EcoAthletes.

Most recently, the Brewers, SC Johnson and Players for the Planet teamed up to host an exclusive program for faculty and collegiate students from UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee concentrating on environmental and sustainable studies. And Suter was a spokesperson for a program at American Family Field in which discarded plastic cups are recycled into bottles for SC Johnson cleaning products.

Asked about his most recent area of focus, Suter said, “The biggest thing is the urban greenery that we’re trying to get going. Planting gardens, planting trees in urban areas -- starting with Milwaukee -- the program has a lot of potential for players to get on board, and for them to help green the urban areas near their respective ballparks would be incredible. That’s something that I’m really excited about because that’s real impact in communities that have been environmentally disregarded for generations now."

Suter has already had an impact in the clubhouse. A couple of years ago, he convinced teammates to adopt reusable glass water bottles in place of the hundreds of plastic bottles the team typically went through in a day.

In ways small and big, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, Suter has made everyone more mindful of their imprint on the planet.

“I think what Brent is so great at is, we always say 'be true to yourself,' and we always tell ourselves that, but it's not easy to do that,” Counsell said. “The causes that Brent supports, they aren't the causes that most baseball players are supporting. I think that's what makes it so great. What's great about how Brent does it is he wants to talk to you about why it's important, what you can do and how you can help. Then he puts his time and efforts behind it.

“It's really great. It's really unique. It's so Brent Suter. It's special. That's why we love him.”

And it all started when he settled in to watch a film.

“It was probably the most impactful two hours of movie viewing I’ve ever had in my life, just because it put so much in my heart that I wanted to see come to fruition in this life,” Suter said.