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Lance McCullers Named Astros Nominee for 2016 Roberto Clemente Award

Astros fans can vote for McCullers on Twitter and Facebook by using #VoteMcCullers

Major League Baseball announced that Lance McCullers was named the Houston Astros 2016 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.


Major League Baseball announced that Lance McCullers was named the Houston Astros 2016 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.


Today, Wednesday, September 7 marks the 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. Each Club nominates one current player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character. 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.


The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player from each MLB Club who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.


Lance McCullers is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award. Since his arrival in Houston in 2015, McCullers has been a vocal advocate for pet adoption and no-kill animal shelters. He recently launched the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, a non-profit organization which invests, brings awareness and creates programs aimed at advocates for stray and homeless animals across the country. Their goal is to support shelters and programs that promote pet adoptions and continue on the journey to make Houston a no-kill city. McCullers has also been an active spokesman and supporter of Houston Pets Alive!, which promotes and provides resources, education and programs in order to eliminate the killing of companion animals. McCullers and his wife Kara are both passionate animal advocates and have a rescue husky named Minka. 


"Lance is an involved, committed advocate for pets and animal rights, causes that mean a great deal to him," said Twila Carter, Executive Director of the Astros Foundation and Community Relations. "He brings the same passion to his involvement in the community as he does on the mound, and we are very proud to have him as our nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award."


Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, fans can participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award on social media for the first time by posting voting hashtags to Twitter and Facebook. Astros fans can vote for McCullers by using #VoteMcCullers.


To enhance Roberto Clemente Day and celebrate Clemente's enduring legacy in 2016, Major League Baseball worked with the 30 Clubs to establish SEAT 21. SEAT 21 will be a designated seat in each ballpark on Roberto Clemente Day (or alternate home game for Clubs on the road) dedicated to a well-known or local hero originally from the community who will be recognized in addition to the Club Clemente Award nominee. Recognizing individuals who embody the humanitarian spirit of Roberto Clemente is a natural extension of the current honor bestowed upon players each year and gives MLB and the Clubs the opportunity to further extend the message of service and commitment.


Former Astros outfielder and current Community Outreach Executive Jose Cruz is the Astros Seat 21 honoree for his long-standing commitment to the Houston community, both on and off the field. His contributions as a player are historic, evidenced by the retiring of his No. 25 that joined an elite group of other franchise legends. But his legacy of community involvement has only grown since his playing and coaching days ended. Cruz is an ardent supporter of the Astros Foundation and their cornerstone programs for at-risk youth. He participates year-round in clinics, meet and greets, speaking engagements and community events on behalf of the Houston Astros and takes particular pride in his involvement with the Houston Latino community.


The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the "Commissioner's Award," but was renamed to the "Roberto Clemente Award" in 1973 in honor of 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. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day.


Hall of Famer and Astros great Craig Biggio won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2007, becoming the first player to represent the Houston Astros when he won the national honor.



The distinguished list of past Roberto Clemente Award winners includes 16 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame:


1971     Willie Mays+**                 1983     Cecil Cooper                    1995     Ozzie Smith+                    2007     Craig Biggio+

1972     Brooks Robinson+**      1984     Ron Guidry                         1996     Kirby Puckett+                  2008     Albert Pujols

1973     Al Kaline+                           1985     Don Baylor                         1997     Eric Davis                            2009     Derek Jeter

1974     Willie Stargell+                1986     Garry Maddox                   1998     Sammy Sosa                      2010     Tim Wakefield

1975     Lou Brock+                         1987     Rick Sutcliffe                      1999     Tony Gwynn+                   2011     David Ortiz

1976     Pete Rose                            1988     Dale Murphy                     2000     Al Leiter                              2012     Clayton Kershaw

1977     Rod Carew+                       1989     Gary Carter+                      2001     Curt Schilling                    2013     Carlos Beltran

1978     Greg Luzinski                    1990     Dave Stewart                     2002     Jim Thome                         2014     Paul Konerko *

1979     Andre Thornton               1991     Harold Reynolds              2003     Jamie Moyer                     2014     Jimmy Rollins *

1980     Phil Niekro+                      1992     Cal Ripken, Jr.+                 2004     Edgar Martinez                 2015     Andrew McCutchen

1981     Steve Garvey                     1993     Barry Larkin+                     2005     John Smoltz+                   

1982     Ken Singleton                   1994     Dave Winfield+                2006     Carlos Delgado    

+ Member of The National Baseball Hall of Fame

* Co-winner

** Originally known as the Commissioner's Award (prior to 1973)