NEW YORK -- Each day when he trots out to batting practice, Curtis Granderson wears sneakers with a logo on the back touting Grand Kids, his Chicago-based foundation aiming to help youths develop the tools they need to succeed via education, physical fitness and nutrition. The foundation has been the bedrock of Granderson's community involvement throughout his career.
Since moving to the Mets three seasons ago, only the breadth of Granderson's philanthropy has changed. While he still travels back to Chicago each year, routinely holding clinics and other events through his Grand Kids Foundation, Granderson has expanded his reach to events in New York City, as well. It's a significant reason why he is the Mets' nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award.
Major League Baseball announced 30 club nominees on Tuesday for the annual recognition of a player 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 player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.
Wednesday marks the 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their local nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies. Visiting clubs will honor their nominees before another September home game.
Beginning Wednesday, fans are encouraged to participate in the new process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award by posting any nominee's voting hashtags to MLB's official social media accounts, @MLB on Twitter and Facebook.com/MLB. Granderson's hashtag is #VoteGrandy.
In addition to his work for the Grand Kids Foundation, Granderson backs many other causes, recently donating $5 million to his alma mater, the University of Illinois-Chicago, to help create a new baseball complex. Granderson has also brought groups of children out to Citi Field to enjoy Mets games throughout the season, served as the ambassador for the "Citi Home Runs for Communities" program, participated in the Mets Military Softball Classic and acted as MLB's league-wide spokesman for the White House's "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign and "Drink Up" water initiative.
"I think about how I got to where I am today," Granderson said last year about his philanthropy. "Outside of my mom and dad, who are very instrumental in my life, I think about the number of other people who have helped me out along the way and shaped me as an individual. The fact that they got me to work hard, learn how to fail, learn how to set goals, achieve them … now I'm in a situation where I can finally give back in numerous different ways."
As part of MLB's league-wide Roberto Clemente Day celebration, the event's logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.
The original "Commissioner's Award" for philanthropic service was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente, 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.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.