Mancini is O's nominee for Clemente Award

September 15th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- When Trey Mancini began brainstorming ways he could impact others, he had no idea the hurdles he was about to face. This was before he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, before the COVID-19 pandemic and before he became an inspiration to millions simply by being on the field. This was in late 2019, when Mancini and his sisters created the framework for what would become his foundation, aimed at establishing long-term charitable roots in Baltimore.

By the time the Trey Mancini Foundation launched last winter, Mancini’s reach had grown considerably. The foundation’s focus remains local, intended to fight Baltimore-area food insecurity, emotional trauma and more. But now, Mancini’s impact is national, given how he’s beaten cancer, successfully returned to the field and performed on the summer’s biggest stage with a flourish. It’s for the combination of those efforts that he’s the Orioles' nominee for this year’s Roberto Clemente Award, and one of the strongest contenders in a crowded MLB-wide field.

"It's one of the greatest honors in my entire career,” Mancini said. “[The foundation] was always something we wanted to do, but especially since I got sick. I know what it's like to go through a heavy, incredibly difficult time like that. Sometimes I can’t really put into words how difficult it is. But to go through it, you want to come out the other side and help everybody out who’s going through similar situations. So that’s what I try to do every day.”

Considered one of baseball’s most prestigious individual honors, the Clemente Award annually recognizes the MLB player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on the field and off. Fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award through the end of the regular season on Oct. 3. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by a blue-ribbon panel that will select the winner.

Mancini is considered a favorite, even as a first-time nominee.

Shortly after his cancer diagnosis, Mancini vowed to raise awareness for the disease and advocate for those struggling with it. During his treatment, Mancini partnered with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, joining its “Never Too Young” advisory board. He advocated for young-onset patients and survivors and urged early screenings, using his social-media platforms and, eventually, doing scores of public interviews on the subject. In conjunction with the Orioles, he helped raise $80,000 for CCA through sales of “#F16HT” T-shirts sold by the team. This was all before he completed treatment in September 2020.

Triumphantly returning to the field this spring, Mancini inspired widespread respect and adulation while maintaining his attention on off-the-field endeavors. Though cancer awareness wasn’t a part of his foundation’s original mission, it quickly took on this cause and partnered with CCA.

Mancini lent his time through meet-and-greets and shared information on social media regarding early detection and preventative measures. He worked with Squatty Potty, a toilet stool that positions your body in a natural, comfortable squat, to provide 10,000 colon cancer screenings to underserved communities. He met virtually with cancer survivors during National Cancer Survivors Month in June, recorded countless messages for fans reaching out with their own stories and welcomed his oncologist to Camden Yards for a ceremonial first pitch in July.

Most recently, the Trey Mancini Foundation partnered with Blessings in a Backpack, a national organization that feeds elementary-aged children who face food insecurity, to raise more than $2,800 and collect more than 1,000 pounds of food for the cause.

Prior to the creation of his foundation, Mancini hosted a charity tailgate that raised nearly $20,000 to support young Orioles superfan Mo Gaba, who died from his own cancer battle in 2020. Mancini’s friendship with Gaba was well-documented, and to many, a testament to his character.

“We’re all super proud of him and pulling for him to win the award,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s incredibly classy, very respectful, very intense when he plays. But away from the dugout, he treats people with the utmost respect, is extremely generous, very caring. He’s just a great guy.”

Added Mancini: “When I was going through everything last year, talking to other colon-cancer survivors was probably the biggest thing for me to get through. Hearing people who had gone through the same thing as me and were still living. They encouraged me a lot. Because there are a lot of bad days that go along with chemotherapy treatments, with a cancer diagnosis. It’s not easy. Having other people to lean on and talk to helps a lot. So I want to be there for for everybody else going through something like I did.”