Major League Baseball today announced that Ryan Zimmerman was named the Washington Nationals’ 2016 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player from each MLB Club who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Each Club nominates one current player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character. Wednesday, September 7th marks the fifteenth annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente’s legacy 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.
Zimmerman is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award. During a pregame ceremony on Wednesday, September 7th, the Nationals will honor Zimmerman for his ongoing commitment to the community, best illustrated through his work with the ziMS Foundation, which he founded in 2006, his first full season in MLB. The ziMS Foundation aims to raise money and awareness for programs benefiting those afflicted with multiple sclerosis. In 1995, Zimmerman’s mother Cheryl was diagnosed with MS, a chronic and unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system.
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, fans can participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award on social media for the first time by posting voting hashtags to Twitter and Facebook. Nationals fans can vote for Zimmerman by using #VoteZIM.
To enhance Roberto Clemente Day and celebrate Clemente’s enduring legacy in 2016, Major League Baseball worked with the 30 Clubs to establish Seat 21. Seat 21 will be a designated seat in each ballpark on Roberto Clemente Day (or alternate home game for Clubs on the road) dedicated to a well-known or local hero originally from the community who will be recognized in addition to the Club Clemente Award nominee. Recognizing individuals who embody the humanitarian spirit of Roberto Clemente is a natural extension of the current honor bestowed upon players each year and gives MLB and the Clubs the opportunity to further extend the message of service and commitment.
The inaugural Washington Nationals honoree is Argelia Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of the District of Columbia College Access Program. The Nationals will honor Rodriguez during pregame ceremonies on Wednesday alongside Zimmerman.
The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award,” but 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. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day.