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Johnson nominated for Clemente Award

Braves closer recognized for dedication to philanthropic efforts
MLB.com @mlbbowman

WASHINGTON -- Though Jim Johnson has never outwardly sought attention for what he has done on or off the field, the Braves' closer certainly deserves to be recognized for the genuine sense of generosity he has provided in his efforts to aid children battling a rare cancer, as well as physically challenged individuals who want to play baseball.

Johnson has been selected as the Braves' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award. His philanthropic efforts have aided the Miracle League of Manasota (Fla.) and children battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), which is a rare brain cancer. He will be recognized during an on-field ceremony at Turner Field later this month, but fans now have a chance to determine who will be honored with this prestigious award.

WASHINGTON -- Though Jim Johnson has never outwardly sought attention for what he has done on or off the field, the Braves' closer certainly deserves to be recognized for the genuine sense of generosity he has provided in his efforts to aid children battling a rare cancer, as well as physically challenged individuals who want to play baseball.

Johnson has been selected as the Braves' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award. His philanthropic efforts have aided the Miracle League of Manasota (Fla.) and children battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), which is a rare brain cancer. He will be recognized during an on-field ceremony at Turner Field later this month, but fans now have a chance to determine who will be honored with this prestigious award.

Major League Baseball announced the 30 club nominees on Tuesday for the annual recognition of a player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Each club nominates one player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

Wednesday marks the 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. Voting is underway, and fans are encouraged to participate in the new process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award by posting any nominee's voting hashtags to MLB's official social media accounts, @MLB on Twitter and Facebook.com/MLB. Johnson's hashtag is #VoteJJ.

While rehabbing at the Orioles' Spring Training facility in Sarasota, Fla., during the 2011 season, Johnson began working with the Miracle League of Manasota, an organization that provides opportunities for all children to play baseball, regardless of their ability. His annual golf tournament -- the Birdland Golf Classic -- has helped raise more than $150,000 for the league. These funds helped the league open its first Miracle League Field in 2012.

Johnson has long made financial donations to military groups and veterans. His appreciation for service and the armed forces has been enriched since an online search for sporting equipment introduced him to Operation Grace White Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding DIPG research, raising awareness and supporting families affected by the disease.

Touched by the story of Grace White, who at the time was a 6-year-old child battling DIPG, Johnson contacted Grace's father, Lt. Col. Scott White, a Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces, and the two developed an immediate friendship.

Johnson organized an in-stadium auction to support Operation Grace White Foundation at Turner Field each of the past two seasons. He also invited the White family to Atlanta to participate in an on-field presentation that helped promote the need to aid in this foundation's efforts.

The original "Commissioner's Award" for philanthropic service was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente, the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

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.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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