Major League Baseball today announced that for the third-straight year, Chris Davis was named the Orioles’ 2019 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. The 18th annual Roberto Clemente Day will take place Wednesday, September 18. This commemorative day 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.
Prior to the game on September 18, the Orioles will host an on-field ceremony where Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias will present Davis with the Roberto Clemente Award as well as presenting a ceremonial check for $7,500 to the LUNGevity Foundation as part of Davis’ nomination. Davis earned the Orioles’ 2019 distinction due to his family’s ongoing work with many charities in and around the Baltimore community, including the LUNGevity Foundation, the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, Casey Cares Foundation, Helping Up Mission, Compassion International, Maryland Food Bank, International Justice Mission, Water Missions International, and Feed My Starving Children.
Davis and his wife, Jill, have served as honorary Board Members and ambassadors for the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) at the University of Maryland Medical Center since 2016 - helping raise awareness for childhood illnesses and UMCH’s role as a leader in patient care, pediatric disease research, and educating future generations of health care providers.
This season the Davis family hosted their third annual “Crush’s Homers for Hearts,” a charity Home Run Derby event at Oriole Park at Camden Yards that benefits the Pediatric Heart Program of UMCH. Through the event, which has raised nearly $300,000 to date, participants enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a Home Run Derby challenge on the field at Oriole Park.
For the fourth consecutive year, Chris and Jill have served as race ambassadors for the annual Casey Cares 5K run/walk at Port Covington in Baltimore. All proceeds benefit the Casey Cares Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides personalized, uplifting, and ongoing programs with a special focus on critically-ill children and their family members throughout six states. Since Chris and Jill became ambassadors in 2013, the race has raised more than $500,000 for the Foundation. Davis has also participated in the Casey Cares Extra Innings event, which encourages families to meet, share, and support each other while taking part in themed, group parties through the Caring Connections Program.
Each year since arriving in Baltimore, Davis has donated $5,000 to the OriolesREACH Gameday Experience Program, which hosts thousands of underprivileged youth to Orioles games. Group members receive game tickets, concessions vouchers, an Orioles t-shirt, a cap, and transportation to and from the game. Davis has also supported the Orioles’ Military Appreciation Program by donating $2,500 to host local military organizations to a game at Oriole Park in a private suite.
For the past four years, Davis has been a strong supporter of the Helping Up Mission in Baltimore. While making surprise appearances at the shelter and supporting shelter programs, one of the many ways he has contributed over the years has been through their annual graduation banquet, in which they celebrate the 135 graduates of the Spiritual Recovery Program.
Recently, Chris and Jill partnered with Compassion International in Burkina Faso. In 2019, they donated funds to support the launch of two “Survival Programs” and two Child Development Centers, which will impact critical health interventions, including meningitis vaccinations, treated mosquito nets, HIV/AIDS treatment, and urgent response for situations such as abuse, life threatening medical conditions, and disaster. The Davis’ have plans to travel to the Dominican Republic later in the year to visit mothers and babies in the Child Survival Program.
Beyond his philanthropic efforts, Davis continued to show his depth of character when he shared a special moment with a young Red Sox fan. Henry Frasca, a nine-year-old diehard Red Sox fan, heard about Davis’ struggle at the plate back in April and decided to write him a heartfelt and inspiring letter of support to let him know, “the way you play baseball has absolutely nothing to do with how good of a person you are.” After receiving the letter prior to first pitch, Davis kept the letter tucked in his back pocket for the entire game and proceeded to snap his 0-for-56 skid, recording three hits. Completely moved by those words, Davis has since kept the letter with him for the entirety of the season and chose to thank his newest fan by inviting him to Fenway Park when the Orioles played the Red Sox on August 16. Davis was able to meet and thank Frasca in person, gave him a tour of the clubhouse, invited him to shag balls during batting practice, and spent time getting to know the incredible nine-year-old.
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) and MLB.com, as well as Vera Clemente (the late Roberto’s wife & MLB Goodwill Ambassador). Beginning today, Thursday, September 12, and continuing until Sunday, September 29, fans can vote for the overall winner of the Roberto Clemente Award at mlb.com/clemente21. 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,” 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.