CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen was born about 20 years after the death of the legendary Roberto Clemente. That didn't mean that the Hall of Famer and humanitarian didn't have an effect on him.
Lorenzen is the Reds' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for his off-the-field charitable efforts.
This past offseason, while on a trip to Puerto Rico to promote Christianity in baseball, Lorenzen had the opportunity to meet the Clemente family, including his widow, Vera. He spent time at their home, enjoyed some meals and immersed himself in the Clemente story.
The experience was profound enough for Lorenzen that he asked the Reds to change his uniform from No. 50 to No. 21, to honor Clemente.
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, 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. Lorenzen's hashtag is #VoteLorenzen.
Major League Baseball announced the 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.
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.
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.
Lorenzen, a Southern California native, who is in his second Major League season, has already worked to immerse himself in the Cincinnati community. He is a frequent visitor to Cincinnati Children's Hospital to connect with young patients. He also is involved with the Reds Community Fund and its Rookie Success League and clinics at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy.
Among his other endeavors, Lorenzen has met with elementary school students at the Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies, volunteered with "Matthew 25: Ministries" to help local boy scouts collect and distribute supplies for those in need. He's a presence when the Reds host children and their families from the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is also active with the Cincinnati Bengals' Marvin Lewis Community Fund and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.