MLB announces Clemente Award nominees
Fan voting begins Wednesday for honor that recognizes community contributions
This is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, and Wednesday's recognition included the start of voting for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, as fans help decide who succeeds Carlos Beltran as the winner of the prestigious community honor handed out annually at the World Series.
American League nominees include Nick Markakis of Baltimore, Craig Breslow of Boston, Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox, Nick Swisher of Cleveland, Justin Verlander of Detroit, Jason Castro of Houston, Eric Hosmer of Kansas City, C.J. Wilson of the Los Angeles Angels, Glen Perkins of Minnesota, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, Jed Lowrie of Oakland, Felix Hernandez of Seattle, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, Adrian Beltre of Texas and Todd Redmond of Toronto.
National League nominees include Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, Craig Kimbrel of Atlanta, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Skip Schumaker of Cincinnati, Michael Cuddyer of Colorado, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Steve Cishek of Miami, Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, David Wright of the New York Mets, Jimmy Rollins of Philadelphia, Charlie Morton of Pittsburgh, Jason Motte of St. Louis, Ian Kennedy of San Diego, Sergio Romo of San Francisco and Ian Desmond of Washington.
The award recognizes the MLB player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Each club nominates one team member in an effort to pay tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.
"I feel extremely proud of the support that Major League Baseball and Chevy provides to our communities," said Vera Clemente, Clemente's widow and an MLB goodwill ambassador who helps present the award each fall. "I know Roberto would be honored to know the way today's players support multiple causes. ... They are truly role models for today's generation."
This year's list includes seven 2014 All-Stars: Beltre, Goldschmidt, Hernandez, Kershaw, Kimbrel, Perkins and Rizzo. One of those, Kershaw could become the only two-time recipient of this award, having received it in 2012.
There were more than 1.3 million fan votes last year, and fans can start voting again on Wednesday at ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media. Voting ends on Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to next month's World Series.
The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel of dignitaries, which includes Commissioner Bud Selig; MLB chief operating officer and Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred; Vera Clemente; Hall of Fame Broadcaster and the Spanish Voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers Jaime Jarrin; MLB Network analysts and former Clemente Award winners Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds (also of FOX Sports) and John Smoltz (also of FOX Sports); Hall of Famer, ESPN analyst and former Clemente Award winner Barry Larkin; ESPN analyst and former Clemente Award winner Rick Sutcliffe; FOX broadcaster Joe Buck; Hall of Famer and TBS analyst Dennis Eckersley; TBS analyst Ron Darling (also of MLB Network); MLB.com senior correspondent Hal Bodley; a representative from Chevrolet and others.
Last month marked the 80th anniversary of Clemente's birth. What does it mean to carry on his legacy in this way? Recipients at each presentation always say that it is one of the most important honors of their careers, on or off the field. Just being one of these 30 nominees means a player has made a huge impact.
"When I was a kid, I always wanted to be like [Clemente] in one way, meaning having the opportunity to play baseball, having the opportunity to give back," Beltran said in his acceptance speech last year at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where he was preparing for that night's World Series game against the Red Sox.
Willie Mays won the first Clemente Award in 1971 when it was known as the Commissioner's Award, recognizing community service around the game. He is one of 14 Hall of Famers on the distinguished list of recipients. After 1972, the award was dedicated in Clemente's name.
Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, while visiting clubs will honor their nominees before another September home game. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and the official dugout lineup cards.