Major League Baseball and Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball, today announced that Jim Johnson was named the Orioles' 2012 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Today marks the eleventh annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially recognize local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Johnson is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
The Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet pays tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others. The Award is named for the 15-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Johnson has been involved with multiple charities during his time with the Orioles. He works with the Miracle League of Manasota, an affiliate of the National Miracle League Association that joins more than 200 communities around the world to provide opportunities for disabled children to play baseball. The Manasota chapter is located in the Sarasota, Florida area, the Orioles' spring training home and Johnson's off-season residence. In 2011, Johnson started the Birdland Golf Classic event, which over the last two years has raised a total of $50,000 that went directly to the Miracle League of Manasota.
In large part due to the success of the Classic (along with additional donations from the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates), the Miracle League was able to open the first Miracle League Field in the Sarasota-Bradenton area last December with a groundbreaking ceremony which Johnson attended. Johnson also appeared at an Orioles-hosted clinic for children in the Miracle League as part of the new field dedication ceremony. The field features a flat rubberized surface to eliminate barriers and create a safe playing environment for players challenged with any form of special need.
Johnson's work with children with disabilities continues in the Baltimore community as well. Johnson is involved with the Challenger League in Maryland and Virginia. Earlier this season, he taught baseball to over 40 players from the Orioles Advocates Challenger League at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena in a Fantasy Camp for Kids. The clinic provided Challenger Baseball players the opportunity to learn baseball skills from major league players. Each participant also received autographs, tickets to an Orioles game and a personalized Orioles jersey.
Johnson's efforts over the year have stretched beyond just children. For the second consecutive year the Orioles have hosted a group of wounded soldiers and other active military groups and their families in a catered private suite for each Orioles home Sunday game. Johnson got involved personally by contributing $1,000 to the program for the second consecutive year, in addition to meeting with the soldiers on the field pre-game.
In addition to the Roberto Clemente Award, this year Johnson will also receive the Baltimore Sun's Tim Wheatley award, recognizing local professional athletes who give back to the community. The award is named after the late Tim Wheatley, the former sports editor for The Sun and a huge influence in the local community who passed away three years ago in a tragic car accident.
The Orioles will present Johnson with the Roberto Clemente Award in an on-field ceremony prior to their game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, September 24.
Beginning today, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the national award recipient by visiting MLB.com/ClementeAward to vote for one of the 30 Club nominees. Participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2012 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 14th, and the winner of the fan poll will receive one vote among those cast by a selection panel.