Major League Baseball today announced that Ian Kennedy was named the Kansas City Royals 2020 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s most prestigious individual honor for Major Leaguers.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a Major League player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
As part of the annual program, each MLB Club nominates one player to be considered for the league-wide Award in tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character. Wednesday, September 9th marks the 19th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente’s legacy as a humanitarian and to officially acknowledge local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. 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.
Ian Kennedy is one of the 30 Club nominees for the annual award. When the pandemic struck, he immediately jumped to action and supported the Royals Charities Royals Respond Fund. Later, as the 2020 season started, he created the initiative, K’s for a Cause, in which he donates $5,000 for each strikeout he throws to Head for the Cure, which supports who have or have had brain cancer as well as their loved ones, and Consider the Lily, which focuses on putting an end to human trafficking.
For the last three seasons, Kennedy has also hosted a fully catered dugout suite on Saturday nights in which he brings in local charities, primarily those connected with first responders and the military. He also has supported many other Royals Charity associated events and groups including the on-field gala Diamond of Dreams, the Broadcast Auction, Braden’s Hope Calendar and hospital visits. He has bagged produce items at the Bishop Sullivan Center, served Thanksgiving meals at City Union Mission and Guadalupe Centers and helped low-income families select their holiday gifts at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau Holiday Shop and the Della Lamb Operation Santa Claus.
The league-wide winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be selected via a blue ribbon panel, including Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS), MLB.com, as well as Roberto’s children, Enrique, Luis and Roberto Clemente, Jr. Beginning today, fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award via mlb.com/clemente21. The site will feature bios of each of the nominees and will allow fans to vote until the end of the season on Sunday, September 27th. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by the blue ribbon panel.
The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award.” The recognition 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.