Major League Baseball today announced that Robinson Canó is the Seattle Mariners 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 7, marks the 15th Annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local Club nominees. 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.
Mariners nominee Robinson Canó has made a significant impact on the lives of underserved children and communities both locally and globally. In 2011, he established the RC22 Foundation to focus his efforts on youth development and community healthcare.
In addition to supporting such Seattle area charities and causes as Seattle Children's Hospital, Odessa Brown Clinic, City Year Seattle and the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Cano's RC22 Foundation has opened a Montessori school that provides high quality early childhood education to 101 students from an impoverished community of San Pedro de Macoris, Cano's hometown in the Dominican Republic.
The Foundation has also provided holiday gifts, bicycles and athletic equipment to thousands of children in his home country including the donation of over 2,500 complete uniforms and baseball cleats to high-need youth baseball leagues.
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. Mariners fans can vote for Canó by using #VoteCanó.
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, a seat in each ballpark on Roberto Clemente Day dedicated to a well-known or local hero who will be recognized in addition to the Club Clemente Award nominee.
Julio Cruz, former Mariners second baseman and longtime fan favorite, has been selected as the Mariners first-ever SEAT 21 honoree. Cruz, who played second base for the Mariners from 1977-1983, became the team's all-time leader in stolen bases and earned the nickname "The Cruzer." Cruz has remained a part of the community and has been a strong supporter of several community programs, including Toys for Kids founded by Rick Rizzs and former teammate Dave Henderson. Toys for Kids raises funds to buy gifts for hospitalized and homeless children during the holidays.
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.
Mariners players have received the Clemente Award three times: Harold Reynolds in 1991; Jamie Moyer in 2003; Edgar Martinez in 2004.