Tribe nominates Swisher for Clemente Award
HOUSTON -- The awards for play on the field are nice, but the strikeouts and home runs don't have quite the kind of wide-reaching impact that the nominees for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award have had on their communities.
Injured Indians first baseman Nick Swisher is a prime example of that, and he is the team's 2014 nominee for the award, which was established to honor Clemente's legacy.
Clemente, a 15-time All-Star and Hall of Fame outfielder, died tragically in an offseason plane crash 42 years ago en route to Nicaragua to help earthquake victims.
Swisher has missed most of the season with nagging wrist and knee injuries, the latter of which required season-ending surgery last month. He's not even with the team right now.
That hasn't stopped his charitable efforts in the Cleveland area. Along with his wife, JoAnna, he created the Swisher Family Foundation to provide children with medical care, education and recreational activities.
"It's a huge honor for a player," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "It's something that is not done for your baseball ability, but for how much you give back. I know that's very important to [Nick] and his wife. They have come into this community and really embraced it."
Among other things, the couple has worked with multiple area health centers to acquire and promote medical care, and provided a free screening of "Million Dollar Arm" to the Cleveland Boys and Girls Club.
Swisher also staged the first Mission Swisher scavenger hunt at Progressive Field to raise proceeds for the efforts.
"I know one of the few days off all year we had at home was that day and he had his charity event and almost every player was there," Francona said. "That says a lot about our whole team's character and commitment to giving back."
The Swishers have also donated more than a quarter-million dollars to various other children's organizations in the Cleveland area.
The 10-year Major League veteran has routinely donated the use of his suite at Progressive Field to various charities, such as the Providence House, the Ronald McDonald House and Shoes and Clothes for Kids.
"Nick and his wife, JoAnna, continue to deepen their commitment to youth and families in Cleveland," said Rebecca Kodysh, the club's executive director of community impact, in a news release. "The Swishers have demonstrated a passion for long-term community impact that embodies the ideals of Roberto Clemente."
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.