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Desmond's philanthropy honored by Rockies

@harding_at_mlb
September 9, 2020

DENVER -- Playing baseball has given Ian Desmond a visible platform to work for causes close to his heart. But after foregoing playing in 2020, Desmond has been even more active, more hands-on and, when possible, just as visible. For his passion, Desmond is the Rockies' nominee for the 2020

DENVER -- Playing baseball has given Ian Desmond a visible platform to work for causes close to his heart. But after foregoing playing in 2020, Desmond has been even more active, more hands-on and, when possible, just as visible.

For his passion, Desmond is the Rockies' nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award, which goes annually to the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team," as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.

Desmond has been quite busy pushing for awareness and funds to fight childhood cancer, restoring youth baseball and calling attention to issues to make life better in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla., and continuing to be more than a big-name contributor. Desmond, who is being nominated for the fourth straight year, has been one of the Majors' most active players since he broke in with the Nationals, and that has continued in public and in quiet ways in Colorado.

"One he got established in Washington, you know, the stuff that he did in the community, what he meant to that area, is pretty well documented," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "So when he came here to the Rockies, that continued. And a lot of it was behind the scenes -- a lot of people don't know all the things that does in the community with his philanthropy. So when he decided not to play the season, he was going to dive headfirst into the Sarasota area.

"He's followed up with that. Actually, I just talked to him just the other day, and he said it's been a great experience for him to basically dive in and sort of be a businessman with some of the meetings that he's had with some of the leaders in that area of Florida. He's been educated on so many things in the business world that you never thought that obviously he would go through this year, but it sets them up well, whenever he does retire ang gets back home to his home area and to make an impact."

In making the nomination submission, the Rockies noted that on May 17, Desmond participated in a first-ever livestream Neurofibromastosis (NF) fund-raiser, "Home is Where the Heart Is," which benefitted the Chidren's Tumor Foundation.

Amid numerous video messages and live performances was an interview with Desmond, who expressed how he wished he could be with his NF family, but could not because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In past seasons, Desmond had "meet-up" outings organized by Children's Tumor Foundation volunteers at ballparks in various cities.

"One of my coaches asked me the other day, 'What do you miss most besides your teammates?' Desmond said during the interview. "I said, 'I miss my NF people.' The meet-and-greets, the May Neurofibromatosis Month. The interactions on social media are still there, but not quite as strong as they are during the season. They are all unbelievably courageous human beings, and I just know that it's a little peace of mind and it will make their lives a little bit easier; knowing that there are people out there fighting specifically to find a cure for what they have."

In his Instagram post announcing that he would not play this year, Desmond talked of frightening conditions of racism and violence in the world, and he discussed how Sarasota's vibrant youth baseball scene pulled him through the tough moments. Then he announced that part of his goal is to revive the youth baseball scene, to give youngsters not only the sport that he loves but a safe and healthy outlet.

Desmond has continued those efforts, especially via his Instagram account calling attention to police brutality, carelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the prevalence of hatred in the world. Desmond also is a member of the Players Alliance that encompasses "more than 100 Black current and former players, united to use our collective voice and platform to create increased opportunities of the Black community in every aspect of our game and beyond."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.