On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the 30 club nominees for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award, an annual recognition of the MLB player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
The nominees will be officially recognized next Wednesday, marking the 19th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor the late Hall of Famer’s legacy as a humanitarian. Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco won the award in 2019.
The Roberto Clemente Award winner will be selected via a blue ribbon panel that includes Commissioner Rob Manfred, representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS) and MLB.com, as well as Roberto’s children, Enrique, Luis and Roberto Jr. Fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award via mlb.com/clemente21.
Here's what each of the 30 nominees have done to carry on Clemente's legacy in 2020.
American League East
Blue Jays: Danny Jansen
Jansen has been one of the club’s most public-facing players since making his Major League debut in 2018, regularly taking part in events like the Blue Jays Winter Tour, Winter Fest in Toronto and youth baseball events throughout the year. Along with Jansen’s participation with Jays Care, which works to close the opportunity gap for children and youth in Canada by making baseball more accessible in communities, Jansen is also one of the more respected players in the clubhouse, which was evident this Spring Training in Dunedin.
Dubbed by several of his coaches as “the busiest man in camp”, Jansen put in long hours to facilitate the many new pitchers he’d be working with in 2020, and it was a daily occurrence to see him jogging between two meetings or workouts with a bag over each shoulder. -- Keegan Matheson
Orioles: Hanser Alberto
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberto made it his mission to support his hometown of San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic, as his community navigated an unprecedented crisis. In May, San Francisco De Macoris was the center of the Dominican Republic’s COVID-19 pandemic and access to the city was completely restricted. Alberto and his family worked with former teammates Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Robinson Chirinos to distribute food, medicine, and other essential items to more than 500 families in need.
Alberto has recorded essential public health announcements in both English and Spanish to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Baltimore. The Orioles and MLB will collectively donate $15,000 to split between Alberto’s foundation, Fundación Alberto Brito, and a Baltimore-based charitable organization. -- Joe Trezza
Rays: Charlie Morton
Since joining the Rays in 2018, Morton has quickly become one of the leaders inside the clubhouse. But Morton’s impact has extended to his generous contributions to the Tampa Bay community. In April, Morton and his family donated $50,000 to the Feeding Tampa Bay virtual food drive. The donation was even more significant, considering that the Rays matched Morton’s donation, which helped provide one million meals to people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. -- Juan Toribio
Red Sox: Mitch Moreland
Due to their non-contender status, the Red Sox traded Moreland for two prospects on Sunday. But that doesn’t change how the organization feels about Moreland’s contributions to the team both on and off the field. He was one of the team’s most willing participants in the community.
Moreland and his wife held their “Christmas in July” event this summer in which they asked fans to join them in donating new toys and craft items for children being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital. The cause was particularly important for the Morelands this year due to the impact of Covid-19 on many of the families. -- Ian Browne
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton stepped to the plate during the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting healthcare workers and first responders by teaming with a Brooklyn-based company to donate more than 15,000 face shields to hospitals in the greater New York City and Los Angeles areas. The chosen facilities predominantly serve Black and Latino communities, many of which were hit the hardest by the pandemic. The big-swinging designated hitter is also a co-founder of the All-Star Smiles Foundation, which helps fight child tooth decay by providing free dental care to children in need. Stanton showed interest in the foundation after requiring dental surgery in September 2014, when he was hit in the face by a pitch while playing for the Marlins. -- Bryan Hoch
Indians: Brad Hand
Brad Hand has a passion for helping youth baseball and softball players, and before the 2019 season, he came up with a way to be able to turn that passion into a reoccurring reality. He and his family established his foundation, Helping Hands, in the 2018-19 offseason to be able to give back to the Cleveland chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America. The Indians closer has since visited schools, donated baseball equipment to local clubs and even teamed up with OhioGuidestone last month to host a special drive-in event for families to be able to watch a game outside of their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before Opening Day, the Indians learned of local young baseball programs that were unable to be played this season because of the coronavirus. When Hand heard the Tribe wanted to help, he didn’t hesitate to volunteer. The 30-year-old hopped on a Zoom call with some of the young players, while the Indians’ mascot, Slider, showed up to hand out bags of equipment. Hand provided 15 recreational teams with bases, hitting cages, Wiffle balls and bat and ball sets. He also bought 150 gloves, one for each participant in the six-week program that replaced the usual season. -- Mandy Bell
Royals: Ian Kennedy
When COVID-19 struck, Kennedy immediately supported the Royals Response Fund and the Home Plate Project through Big League Impact to provide food for families in economic stress. During this season, for each batter that Kennedy struck out, he donated $10,000 to organizations close to his heart -- $5,000 to Head for the Cure, which raises awareness and funds to fight brain cancer, and also $5,000 to Consider the Lily, which focuses on ending human trafficking. The loving concern that Ian and Allison Kennedy long have shown for deserving people and charities that make a difference have lifted the Royals pitcher within the everlasting spirit of the great Roberto Clemente. -- Jeffrey Flanagan
Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
This season, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Rosangel and Miguel Cabrera partnered with the Detroit Tigers Foundation to donate $250,000 to benefit children and families in Detroit. The donation helped provide meals for children, technology and tablets for students, day care for families and high-quality face masks for Detroiters with donations distributed to four organizations, including The Detroit Public Schools Community District, The Detroit Public Schools Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) and Brilliant Detroit and G1 Impact.
In addition to lending his financial support in 2020, Cabrera lent his image and likeness to support a US Census campaign to encourage Census completion in traditionally low participating communities. The campaign, in both English and Spanish, was targeted toward Latin and Hispanic families in Detroit and throughout Michigan. -- Jason Beck
Twins: Nelson Cruz
Cruz held his head in his hands, tears welling up in his eyes, when he was informed in June that he had won the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award as part of the 2020 ESPYs, securing a $100,000 grant for his Boomstick23 Foundation that had already made life-changing impacts on his tiny home community of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, nestled deep in the northwestern Dominican Republic near the border with Haiti.
Cruz grew up without streets, reliable access to electricity or running water, ambulances, security or policing infrastructure in his town. He’s dedicated his entire professional career to making sure future generations have those things -- and more. Here’s an incomplete list of what Cruz has contributed to his hometown: an ambulance, police motorcycles, a police truck, a police station, a new medical clinic, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes for elderly and disabled residents, and annual visits from optometrists and dentists to the clinic he established. He also worked with other Dominican baseball players to acquire and transport food and resources to communities during the COVID-19 pandemic in his country.
Up next, Cruz is building a computing center to help provide professional and vocational training for young athletes in his town and also working to invest in small businesses to foster the growth of his local economy and entrepreneurs. -- Do-Hyoung Park
White Sox: Tim Anderson
Anderson’s League of Leaders community outreach program is now in its fourth year and was created by Anderson with his wife, Bria, to instill leadership skills in youth affected by violence. The Andersons established the outreach after his best friend, Branden Deon Moss, who was shot and killed trying to help an assault victim. The League of Leaders has enlisted the support of more than 100 volunteers, held four back-to-school drives providing nearly 600 free haircuts and raised financial support for much-needed scholarships and resources for nonprofit agencies with similar missions, such as Youth Guidance and Turning Point Domestic Violence and Sexual Assaults Services.
When COVID-19 altered plans to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day in mid-April, Anderson held a virtual discussion with members of the White Sox Amateur City Elite (ACE) – a travel baseball program designed to help reverse the trend of declining participation among African-Americans in baseball. Anderson discussed Robinson’s lasting impact on sport and society, while speaking to his role model’s resilient spirit as an example of how all people can remain mentally and physically strong in the face of adversity.
Anderson teamed with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to create a public service announcement on gun violence, emphasizing the need for more resources and economic opportunities in neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides. He also has stood in solidarity with many who have peacefully protested racism and violence throughout Chicago and his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Anderson took part in a “#Players4BLM” video, which featured several current and former black baseball players supporting the message of Black Lives Matter and “One team. One dream.” -- Scott Merkin
Angels: Mike Trout
Trout and his wife, Jessica, have made suicide awareness and mental health one of their main causes after the suicide of Jessica's brother and former Angels Minor Leaguer Aaron Cox in 2018. They partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the apparel company Tiny Turnip to create an initiative called "Your Game Isn't Over Yet ;", with the semicolon representing the symbol for suicide prevention. The Trouts, who had their first child on July 30, continue to sell merchandise with that slogan to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Trout, a 2009 graduate of Millville High School in New Jersey, also continues to give back to his alma mater, honoring the captain of the baseball team with his No. 1 jersey in a ceremony every year, providing the team with new cleats and meeting with the players and his former coach, Roy Hallenbeck, before each season. Additionally, Trout has made several donations to help others during the coronavirus pandemic. He surprised frontline workers at Inspira Medical Center in Mullica Hill, N.J., on April 16 with free pizza, soda and cookies, which was just the first of several donations he's made to local Inspira Medical facilities near his hometown. He has made it his mission to make donations to food pantries, hospitals and businesses across his native Cumberland County. -- Rhett Bollinger
Astros: Alex Bregman
Bregman raised $2 million with his #FEEDHOU campaign when the coronavirus pandemic started. The money benefited the Houston Food Bank, with every dollar equaling three meals to those in need. The original goal was $1 million, but Bregman wound up raising double. Bregman and some of his teammates hosted a 24-hour livestream via Twitch in May where fans could play video games against them.
Bregman Cares is a charitable organization to assist children with autism, high school athletes and first responders. Bregman and fiancée, Reagan Howard, personally passed out meals at several food drives while baseball was shut down in the spring. Meanwhile, Bregman created a spot on his website for parents to upload video of their child's baseball or softball swing and let Bregman give feedback on the swing's mechanics for free. Bregman, through his foundation, has raised money for AB for Autism. -- Brian McTaggart
Athletics: Tony Kemp
In a year where the battle against racial and social injustice has dominated the national conversation, Kemp has been at the forefront of those discussions with his creation of “THE +1 EFFECT”, an initiative that has raised money for Campaign Zero, an organization dedicated to decreasing police violence with its #8cantwait campaign. Kemp describes “THE +1 EFFECT” as a process in which one person can change another one’s perspective and hope they in turn change another to slowly turn the gears of the systemic change needed right now. Kemp also raised money for COVID-19 relief during the baseball shutdown by auctioning off special signed bobbleheads commemorating his playing days at Vanderbilt University. That money went to charities in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., and the Bay Area, including the Alameda County Community Food Bank near Oakland. -- Martin Gallegos
Mariners: Dee Strange-Gordon
The slender second baseman prides himself on being able to make a big impact despite always being one of the smallest players on the field, and he’s making an even bigger impact in the community in recent years. Gordon’s mom was killed by her boyfriend when he was six years old, and he’s devoted himself to helping children whose own families are affected by domestic violence with his “Flash of Hope” program.
The 32-year-old has also worked with DAWN, a Seattle-area shelter for women and children fleeing from domestic violence and teamed with Food for the Hungry and Striking out Poverty campaigns to help raise funds for underserved communities around the world. He traveled to Rwanda to push those efforts in 2018, and most recently hooked up with Jesse’s Rib Shack in his hometown of Orlando, Fla., to give out free meals to people struggling during the pandemic. -- Greg Johns
Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo
Choo is in his seventh season with the Rangers, and it has been a remarkable run. Early injuries and the pressure from a big contract created some uncertainty if Choo would last in Texas, but he has thrived. Offensively, he has been a force at the top of the lineup with his ability to both get on base and hit for a power. He has also become a respected leader in the clubhouse and mentor to the younger players, and he and his wife, Won Mi Ha, have been active in the community.
When baseball was shut down because of the COVID 19 crisis, Choo gave $1,000 to every Rangers Minor League player. He has provided scholarships for Arlington School District and Korean students and hosted athletes from the local Miracle League. He and his wife donated $100,000 to help establish the Korean Cultural Center in Dallas. Choo was also presented with the 2019 Harold McKinney Good Guy Award from the Dallas Fort-Worth BBWAA. -- T.R. Sullivan
National League East
Braves: Freddie Freeman
Freeman’s willingness to give back to the community was witnessed in March, when he donated $150,000 to aid three Atlanta-area charities in their efforts to assist those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The All-Star first baseman made three separate $50,000 donations to the Atlanta Food Bank, Salvation Army and Giving Kitchen, which pays living expenses for food service workers who are sick, injured, experiencing a housing crisis or suffering from the death of a family member. His donation to the Food Bank helped provide meals to the many children whose families relied on the food that is provided while schools are in session. -- Mark Bowman
Marlins: Miguel Rojas
The Marlins' unofficial captain on the field, Rojas is an outgoing personality who regularly gives of his time away from the field. A native of Venezuela, Rojas has a home in South Florida, and he regularly attends team-sponsored events in the Miami area. In the offseason, he takes part in annual holiday food drives, and has visited local schools -- either in person or via video conference messages -- during Spring Training and the regular season. Education is an area in which Rojas has been active, especially for underserved students, and he’s participated in computer distributions at elementary schools. Rojas also lends his time and financial resources to the Miami Marlins Foundation Home Plate Meals programs. As part of a Mother’s Day initiative, he made a surprise visit to a deserving mom and offered her a complimentary meal, as well as an invitation for her and her son to visit Marlins Park when it is safe to do so. -- Joe Frisaro
Mets: Steven Matz
The centerpiece of Matz's community work is his "Tru32" program, which he began in 2016. Once per week beginning that year, Matz invited 32 first responders from the NYPD, FDNY and other civil service groups to Citi Field, spending time with them before the game. This spring, Matz donated $32,000 to first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queens. His contributions came after Matz earned the Baseball Writers’ Association of America New York Chapter’s 2020 Joan Payson/Shannon Forde Award for community service. -- Anthony DiComo
Nationals: Sean Doolittle
Doolittle’s heart beats strongest for the marginalized of society -- veterans discharged with “bad papers,” LGBTQ individuals suffering with lack of acceptance, refugees working for a new life in unfamiliar, novel surroundings, and minority communities experiencing discrimination and inequality. He makes ongoing visits to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, is involved with Families of Valor program with TAPS, supports the “Battle for the Skies” 75th Anniversary Commemoration, the Urban Warrior Challenge and the Air Force Leadership Reception. He has received the Team DC Community Service Award, which honors local sports leaders advocating for the LGBTQ community, and he’s worked with MLB in their “Shred Hate” initiative to end bullying. -- Jessica Camerato
Phillies: Aaron Nola
Nola continues to be generous with his time at each Phillies Phestival, which benefits ALS Greater Philadelphia Chapter. He personally donated to ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter and participated in an ALS Walk in Baton Rouge. Nola’s uncle Alan continues to fight ALS, which is why he and his brother Austin held a “Strike Out ALS,” which benefited the Louisiana-Mississippi chapter. Nola visited a Philadelphia school in the offseason to speak about the bullying prevention program “Shred Hate.” He also hosted the 2019 Philadelphia Futures “Get in the Game” bowling event, which raised more than $160,000 to benefit high school students. He became an advocate for Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization. His images and PSA’s can be seen via social media, TV and city buses. He also joined the “Phans Feeding Families” campaign in 2019 to raise money and collect food for families facing hunger in the Delaware Valley. A virtual food drive raised enough to provide 120,000 meals for families in critical need during the crisis.
Brewers: Brent Suter
Even in this strangest of seasons, baseball’s greenest player is considering ways to help the planet. Next on Suter’s list of initiatives: team travel. Suter recently partnered with the American Conservation Coalition Campus, The Nature Conservancy and Players for the Planet on a program called Sidelining Carbon, which is focused on reducing the climate impact of professional sports team travel. The goal, embraced so far by the Brewers and the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, is to offset at least 50% of the carbon footprint associated with team travel by 2025 through the purchase of carbon credits.
Prior to that effort, Suter was the public face of a program to recycle all of the million-plus plastic cups at Miller Park into bottles of SC Johnson’s “Scrubbing Bubbles” cleaner. And he also brought environmental consciousness into the clubhouse, helping to convince teammates to ditch single-use plastic water bottles in favor of reusable glass bottles. “You’re seeing the role that athletes play on a lot of really important social issues right now, from race and income inequality to climate,” said ACC Campus president (and Appleton, Wis., native) Benji Backer. “The impact Brent has had by being one of the most active advocates in the community is massive. From ocean plastic to climate change, the amount of people who Brent has inspired, and I’ve seen it on social media, is incredible.” -- Adam McCalvy
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright
As great of an on-field impact that Wainwright has had in his 15 seasons with the Cardinals, the work he has done off the field is what he hopes will be his most lasting legacy. For the second consecutive year and the fifth time in his career, the veteran pitcher has been selected as the Cardinals’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award this season. Wainwright was selected in recognition of his charity work, which includes his foundation, Big League Impact, that he and his brother, Trey, founded in 2013. The foundation’s mission is to provide basic resources, including food, clean water, medical care and shelter, to those in need around the globe. Wainwright works with other MLB players to bring their charity aspirations to life, too. -- Anne Rogers
Cubs: Jason Heyward
Since joining the Cubs, Jason Heyward has contributed more than $95,000 to fellow Cubs player foundations and community efforts, demonstrating his commitment to his teammates. In addition, he has donated to multiple community organizations that work with youth and families in under-resourced communities in Chicago. One organization that he has worked closely with is Future Ties, a nonprofit on the South Side of Chicago which supports low-income families through summer and after-school programs and helps parents build life skills, escape domestic violence and mentor young people in the community. Most recently, when the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted low-income communities in Chicago, Jason contributed $300,000 to nonprofit organizations that were addressing the severe inequities across Chicago. -- Alyson Footer
Pirates: Josh Bell
Bell has always been active in the community, raising money for the Dreambuilders Foundation, which provides food to underserved children, hosting an annual dinner to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and supporting MLB’s Home Plate Project. Players who come up through the Pirates system are often inspired by the humanitarian legacy of Roberto Clemente, and Bell is no exception. But this year, Bell seemed to find his voice for a more personal cause amid the activism for racial equality and social justice following the killing of George Floyd. The All-Star first baseman used his platform to start and promote the hashtag #SocialReformSunday, educating his followers (and those of other big league players who’ve joined him) on social justice issues.
Bell also started a “Building Bridges” video series on the Pirates’ social media accounts, took part in a call with the Pirates Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, joined Rabbi Ron Symons of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh’s “Center for Loving Kindness” and formed a virtual book club with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Bell’s reading list is centered around social reform as well as “not only understanding what social justice looks like, but understanding what being a good human being looks like,” he said. -- Adam Berry
Reds: Tucker Barnhart
A big leaguer with the Reds since 2014 and a team leader, Barnhart showed leadership in the community from the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic that shutdown baseball and much of the country. Along with his wife, Sierra, the Barnharts gave businesses in Cincinnati and their hometown of Indianapolis a boost by starting “Takeout Thursday,” to promote eating at local businesses. It started in mid-March, when they purchased a pair of $500 gift cards for two restaurants in suburban Zionsville, Ind., and continued each Thursday in both cities. On many of the Thursdays, Barnhart went a little further and personally delivered restaurant gift cards to frontline health and safety workers and volunteer organizations. Eventually, the Cincinnati chain of Frisch’s restaurants matched the gift card donations from the Barnhart family.
Barnhart also raised $2,000 by organizing a sandlot game that featured high school, college and big league players. The money was donated to Indianapolis RBI to go toward uniforms, equipment, league and tournament fees. During the heightened push for social justice and improved race relations amid the pandemic, Barnhart was also vocal on social media for the Black Lives Matter movement and inside the Reds clubhouse to bring greater understanding among the players from all backgrounds.
D-backs: Eduardo Escobar
The native Venezuelan started the Eduardo Escobar Foundation, which provides food, medical supplies, basic necessities and baseball equipment in Venezuela. The foundation has hosted a charity softball game in Venezuela since 2013. He has also made himself a fixture in the Arizona community since coming to the D-backs midway through the 2018 season. Escobar makes frequent visits to local schools and the Boys & Girls Club. He was one of six finalists for the 2017 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award. While with the Twins, he won the Carl R. Pohlad Award for Outstanding Community Service. -- Steve Gilbert
Dodgers: Justin Turner
Justin has been a fixture in the Los Angeles community since joining the Dodgers seven years ago and continued to make his presence felt in 2020. Justin and wife Kourtney worked to support small businesses while providing hot meals those in need. From mid-March through June, the Turners would select a restaurant and order thousands of meals to be delivered to the Los Angeles Dream Center, which fed over 12,000 individuals a day at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Turners served at the drive-through food distribution and donated an estimated 900,000 meals during the 82-day effort, culminating with the Dream Center naming their food bank The Justin & Kourtney Turner Food Bank.
In addition, Justin donated several meals per week to the doctors, nurses and staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where Justin, Kourtney and the Justin Turner Foundation have been added to the “Spotlight Wall” in recognition of their philanthropic efforts. They were Honorary Hosts for their Walk and Play LA event for the past two years, helping to raise critical funds for the hospital. They also hosted CHLA’s Winter Wonderland during the holidays, creating a festive carnival for hundreds of patients.
The Turners also make frequent visits to patients at Cedars Sinai Hospital and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital throughout the year, and serve on the board of UCLA Health’s Operation Mend, which provides healthcare and social support for wounded warriors and their families.Turner’s Foundation hosted the 5th Annual Justin Turner Golf Classic in January at Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village, raising funds to support homeless veterans and children (and their families) battling life-altering illnesses and diseases as well as supporting various youth baseball programs. -- Ken Gurnick
Giants: Hunter Pence
Pence was designated for assignment last month, but he’ll be inextricably tied to the Giants for his impact both on and off the field. A key member of San Francisco's World Series-winning teams in 2012 and ‘14, Pence and his wife, Lexi, launched their own coffee line, Pineapple Labs, earlier this year and use the venture to raise money for charity. Each month, the couple releases a new coffee blend to benefit a variety of causes, including the San Francisco Chronicle’s Season of Sharing fund to assist Bay Area residents suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. -- Maria Guardado
Padres: Drew Pomeranz
Pomeranz was one of the most active Padres in the community during his first stint in San Diego in 2016. That hasn't changed upon his return this year. Pomeranz has partnered with the Padres Foundation to provide meals for hundreds of healthcare workers in San Diego as they work the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also assisted local charities in helping deliver groceries to over 600 cancer patients currently undergoing treatment. -- AJ Cassavell
Rockies: Ian Desmond
Desmond decided not to play this year and chose to focus his efforts on his many community projects, especially in the Newtown area of his hometown of Sarasota, Fla. Even before his decision he was active in his hometown, doing baseball clinics. Desmond is developing an organization that will focus on sports and physical fitness, heath and wellness, and education. It’s part of his long-standing "Spread the Glove" efforts, which encourages fans to identify exemplary charities and to support these charities through donations and awareness. Desmond also has been sharing social justice and voter participation efforts on his social media platforms.