Wednesday marks the 14th 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.
Span 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 pays tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.
During pregame ceremonies on Thursday before the Nationals play the Marlins, Span's guest and past Span's Fans participant Drew Jackson will be accepting the award on Span's behalf for his ongoing commitment to single-parent families.
Raised by his mother, Wanda, Span recognizes the dedication and sacrifices single parents make each day for their families. For three years, he has used his Span's Fans program to create memorable family experiences at Nationals Park while offering optimism and support. In 2014, Span started the Denard Span Foundation to provide hope and encouragement to single parents while empowering them to raise confident children within strong families and communities. The foundation envisions communities where single parents, regardless of gender, and their children are able to reach their full potential.
"We have had the pleasure of working with Denard the last three seasons on initiatives that have helped him -- and the Nationals -- make a lasting impact on our communities," said Shawn Bertani, senior director of community relations for the Nationals. "His authentic generosity has made him a distinctive ambassador for youth throughout the region."
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 club nominees. Voting ends on Friday, Oct. 9; participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2015 World Series, where the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced. Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their nominee as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, while visiting clubs will honor their nominee before another September home game. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards, and a tribute video will be played in ballparks.
The concept of honoring players for their philanthropic work came about in 1971 as the Commissioner's Award, which was renamed 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.